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ST. MAUR. By Adeline Sergeant, author of ' Caspar
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LONDON: HURST & BLACKETT, LIMITED.
P E N H A L A
A WAYSIDE WIZARD.
A HARVEST OF WEEDS,' * A COVENANT WITH THE DEAD,
' GWEN dale's ORDEAL ' ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED,
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
All rights reserved.
THE FIRST VOLUME.
Penhala's House 3
Petrovsky takes the Reins ... 29
The Waters titere Racing downhill to the
He Pushed heh in — I saw it done — I'll
SWEAR it : 104
A Dog with a Bad Name . .139
A Glimmer of D.a.'wn 166
B C) K II.
I. John Smith washes his Face . . . 185
11. • Part of the Shadow THAT is ON ME *. 217
^ III. A Matter OF Mutual Obligation . 248
IV. An Upward Step 268
PENHALA S HOUSE.
Not ' Penhala House ;' mark that ; but,
^ Penhala's House.' The name had been
given to it by the fisher-folk of Carn Ruth
while it was in course of building. Per-
haps there had been a suggestion of good-
humoured satire in their fashion of making
a large mouthful of the words. For Carn
Ruth had held up its hands and turned up
its eyes in open wonder as the walls began
to rise from the ground, and show what
sort of dwelling this was that old Joshua
Penhala was building for himself, among
the pines on the upland above the little
In what way had he and his forbears
differed from themselves ? farming their
few acres industriously, and living from
hand to mouth as all the rest of them did,
as far back as the mind of man could carry
them. And now, behold ! Because Joshua
had found out a few things about wheels
and cranks, and such like gear, for lighten-
ing the labour in the mines, and because
some of the biggest mining lords had taken
his inventions up, and spread the use of
them to other mining centres — because he
was getting to be talked about a little, the
silly old man was pufi*ed up with pride,
and was going to set up for a gentleman
all at once. And as the Carn Ruth folks
watched the walls of the stately mansion
rise from the ruins of the old farm-house,
and realised what sort of dwelling it was
that their neighbour was building for him-
self, they shook their heads very solemnly
indeed, and expressed their hopes audibly
to one another, that the pride of the Pen-
halas might not come down as quickly as
it had lifted itself up.
But there did not seem to be much fear
of that. The present owner of the house
was not yet born when the house was built,
and he was now a man of middle-age, and
still there was no sign of financial difficulty
among the Penhalas. Socially, too, they
were an altogether different set of ^Deople
to the Penhalas of fifty years ago. AVhen
the Mr. Penhala of to-day walked or rode
down the Carn Ruth high-street, the greet-
ings of the people he met were of the kind
offered by the working-classes to their
' betters.' And it said much for him, being
a new man, that they were given ungrudg-
ingly. With all their surface radicalism,
these sturdy Cornish folk are conservative
enough at the core ; not quick to take up
with new notions, and slow to dispossess
themselves of old ; and yet, at the period
with which this history has to do, the
name of Penhala had made for itself a
recognised position among all classes of
them — fisher-folk, farmers, and fine county
gentry into the bargain.
A thoroughly popular man was Lance
Penhala ; and the Cam Ruth people could
have given no more certain proof of his
popularity with them, than by their open-
ly expressed regret that his son ' dedn't
favvor un mowr.'
' The very moral of his mother, the lad
wor, for sure ; and 'twas a shaame, aw, that
'twas, that he shud favvor her, w^hen nature
had purvided iin weth such a braave look-
ing clain-off Cornishman of a father by
■way of example.'
It was a breathless, scorching afternoon
in July, breathless even here, on the edge
of the Atlantic, where, as a rule, there is
more or less agitation in the atmosphere
the whole year through.
It is true that Penhala's house stands
high, and on the south-west side, where
the pines have been cleared for a wide
stretch, there is nothing but a half mile of
gently sloping lawn between the windows
and the open ocean. But even on that ex-
posed upland, the summer air was still
and sultry on this especial afternoon — the
afternoon of the Carn Ruth flower-show —
and especially was it so in there under the
tent, which had been set up to protect the
cottagers' cherished blossoms from the too
impetuous greetings of the Carn Ruth
breezes, whicli for once were conspicuous
by their absence only.
Lancelot Penhala, just finishing his in-
augural speech, was visibly affected by the
unusual closeness, there was a suggestion
of fatigue in the way he supported himself
with one hand on the table at his side, his
voice was less resonant than usual, and
his relief — when he reached the end of
his ' few opening remarks,' and stepped
down from the low crimson cloth dais —
was obvious to every person in the little
' Maaster Penhala's gettin'to lookaulder
than he shud,' one observed, quietly, to
And the other answered,
' Aw, it looks like it for sure ; and
'tain't years, nither ; he's nobbut haalf way
between forty and fifty, caan't be; I re-
member the feasting and jinks at his
christening as if 'twere but yesterday.'
' Aw, aw !' returned the first speaker,
' but theer's mower things than years go
to the makking of an auld man, Jabez
And Jabez looked wise and solemn, and
shook his hoary head, and muttered an
acquiescent 'Aw, aw!' under his breath,
with a glance round him at his neighbours
on either side, as if to assure himself
against being overheard, and moved away
to avoid any further conversation in the
The cause of Mr. Penhala's haggard
looks was evidently not a subject for open
discussion among his humbler neighbours;
but those among his equals apparently saw
no necessity for the observance of an equal
There was a new vicar at Carn Ruth^
10 PENH ALA.
and his wife being young, pretty, and
well-born, had been ' taken up ' by old
Lady Penruddach. Whether it was purely
from kindness of heart on her ladyship's
part, or whether because it was such a
delight to the old woman to have a new
listener, to whom to retail her endless
stories and gossip, is an open question, and
perhaps not a very important one, since
Mrs. Yarlstoke's pleasure in hearing the
family histories of her husband's new
parishioners was certainly equal to Lady
Penruddach's in relating them.
The two ladies wandered away from the
tent now, upon the conclusion of Penhala's
speech, glad to get out of the heat and
crush. They could look at the cottagers^
flowers later on, when the sun was less
powerful. Lady Penruddach said. What
they wanted to do for the next two hours
was to keep themselves as cool as was
possible under the circumstances.
So they took their way across the south
slope, which was ^the name of the lawn on
which the tent was pitched, and made
straight for the terrace on the east side of
the house, away from the chattering crowd
and the overpowering scent of the blossoms,
and, above all, away from the blistering^
heat of the July sun.
Mrs. Yarlstoke swept a glance along the
front of the grand gray-stone house as they
went. Perhaps it looked better from this-
particular point than anywhere. , There
was no clear view of it from end to end
except from the south slope. On the
other sides, it was more or less masked by
its sheltering belts of firs. And even from
the avenue on the east, you only caught an
occasional glimpse of a chimney-stack or
window, until you were well up under the
walls ; and no building shows to advantage
without a little of the enchantment which
distance lends to a picture.
From the south slope you got this effect
of distance ; and the result was charming.
' It is a vary lovely old house,' said the
vicar's wife, after that comprehensive look
of hers. ' It seems a thousand pities that
there should be no lady to preside over its
affairs. How long has Mr. Penhala been
a widower. Lady Penruddach?'
' Have you some fascinating little friend
in your mind's eye for the vacant post, my
dear?' asked Lady Penruddach, with a
shrewd smile on her worldly old face. ' I'm
afraid Penhala is a hopeless case. His
wife has been dead nine years, and he has
never shown the faintest desire to replace
' And has he no female relation who
would play housekeeper for him?' Mrs.
Yarlstoke chose to ignore her new friend's
innuendo ; it was not in the best taste, she
thought. ' Xo cousin nor sister who would
come to him ? A woman does so much to
civilise a home, I think.'
' Xo ; he has no female relation what-
ever. At the present moment the house of
Penhala consists of the man we have just
been listening to and his only son — a lad
of twenty — a shockingly spoilt boy.'
There was a touch of disgust in Mrs.
Yarlstoke's manner as she answered :
^ Oh, yes ; Fve seen the son. He has
attended choir practice every Wednesday
night since we have been here.'
' Choir practice !' snapped out Lady
Penruddach. • What on earth is John
Penhala doing at choir practice ?' and she
turned a quick suspicious look on the
pretty pleasant face at her side, as if she
half expected to find the answer there.
Mrs. Yarlstoke laughed a little as she
met the look, but the laugh in no degree
lessened the disquiet of her manner.
' That is just what I have been asking
myself lately,' she said. ' He certainly
does not come to sing, neither does he come
•out of civility to the vicar or me, for as
often as not he does not even bid us a Good
-evening. But he comes as regularly as
the rest of them ; and I am a little worried
about it. I don't think it ought to go on ;
and yet it is difficult to see how to stop it.
If we had been here longer it would be
different — it is so difficult for new people
— folks will say we are mischief-makers. I
Avish I knew what to do for the best.'
' I suppose it is that little minx, Hagar
Polwhele,' said her ladyship ; and when
Mrs. Yarlstoke bent her head by way
of reply, the old v»^oman gave a snort of
disgust, and settled herself in a garden
chair, and shut down her parasol in a
series of vicious jerks, which expressed her
opinion of the whole affair sufficiently well
without the aid of words.
' I had heard something of this before,'
she said, presently; 'but because it came
to me through the servants, I tried not to
think anything of it. Mrs. Polwhele is a
London woman, and the Carn Ruth people
don't like her : so I thouoht there mio^ht be
a spice of spite in this story against her
dauo^hter. I thought the o-lrl was s^oin cr
to marry the man who sings tenor in the
choir — that giant from the Cluth-hoe mine ?'
'Morris Edyvean, you mean. I believe
there was something of the sort, until
young Penhala came on the scene. I sup-
pose it is natural that the girl should pre-
fer to be seen home by a gentleman ?'
' I suppose it is natural she should be a
16 PENH ALA.
little fool,' retorted the elder lady. ' How-
ever, I mean to put a stop to the nonsense.
It is not a pleasant matter to interfere in,
but somebody will have to do it, unless
the thing is to go on to the usual ending.
I should be sorry to see the boy make a
fool of himself. A lad with old Joshua
Penhala's blood in him should do better
than that. I'll speak to his father myself;
before I go home this afternon.'
Mrs. Yarlstoke was a little surprised at
the temerity of this decision.
' I'm afraid it will be a very unpleasant
thing to do,' she said, with the air of
gentle decorum which seemed to her the
proper thing for the occasion.
But Lady Penruddach smiled like the
toughened old warrior she was.
' Pooh ! That side of the question
doesn't trouble me,' she said. ' It is only
that one would rather not be the first per-
son to create dissension between father and
son. Lancelot Penhala has simply wor-
shipped that boy.'
' Still,' protested the parson's wife, with
her primness a little accentuated, to show
that she held to her own view of the ques-
tion, ' still it would certainly be less un-
pleasant to discuss the matter with a lady.
It is such a pity the boy has no female re-
lation that one can go to.'
' I don't think poor Henrietta Penhala
would have been of much use in such an
affair as this in any case,' observed Lady
Penruddach, with a slight movement of
her fat shoulders. ' She was the only fe-
male relation the lad ever had, except his
mother ; but nobody would ever have
thought of consulting her in such an affair
as this ; she muddled her own matters so
Mrs. Yarlstoke looked interested.
VOL. I. c
18 PENH ALA.
' This boy's aunt, was she ?' she asked.
'Yes; his father's only sister — one of
the prettiest creatures I ever saw, but as
flighty as a kitten. Did you see that tall,
€lumsily-built man, with the deep-set eyes
and the square jaw, who stood behind
Lancelot Penhala, when he was making his
speech just now?'
' You mean the man with a quantity
of crisp fair hair ? Yes, I noticed him ;
a peculiar looking man I thought him.'
'That is Stanislaus Petrovsky, the man
poor Henrietta Penhala ran away with. I
was very surj^rised to see him here to-day.
Lance Penhala has received him once or
twice in London, but this is his first ap-
pearance down here, in the family strong-
' ^Yas it a very romantic affair?' asked
Mrs. Yarlstoke. ' Petrovsky — a Russian
name, is it ?'
' Russian or Polish, or something of the
kind. Romantic? Well, I daresay that
is what Henrietta thought it when she ran
away with him, but I am afraid the poor
soul had time to alter her mind during
her two years of married life. I believe
they were in absolute want during the last
year of her life/
' Want ! But surely she had money?'
' My dear, yes. But Petrovsky got rid
of it all in no time. Don't ask me how,
because I don't know. I have heard a
whisper that he is mixed up with some of
these secret societies in Russia, and that
would account for the disappearance of
the money. I know that he was a political
refugee when Henrietta married him. He
had to leave Russia in a great hurry to
save his head, and they confiscated his
estates in his absence, so he must have
done something very bad. When he first
came over he gave riding-lessons in Lon-
don, just to keep the wolf from the door.
He is a gentleman, yoii know — a prince, I
believe he is really — and when Henrietta
met him in society she fell in love with
him at first sight, and arranged to take
riding-lessons, which she did not want,
from him. Well, he was poor, and in
great trouble, and he can be most fasci-
natino: when he likes, and his eves are
perfectly wonderful when you are near
him, a brilliant, dark blue, and the com-
bination of attractions was too much for
poor Henrietta Penhala. In less than a
fortnight from the date of her first riding-
lesson she was missing. Then came a
telegram announcing her marriage to
Petrovsky, and there was an end of her.
They went on the Continent at once — the
wretched man found it more convenient
for his treasonable practices, I suppose —
PENH ALA. 21
and the next thing we heard of her was
that she was dead — died almost in want, I
believe — and that she had left a week-
old baby boy behind her. When Lance
heard of it he wanted to have the boy,
to bring up with his own. There was
ten years' difference in the boys' ages, but
he thought it would do Master John good
to have another child in the house. But
for some reason or another Petrovsky re-
fused the offer, and chose to drag the
child about with him from j^iH^i' to post,
among the scum and sediment of European
political society, and a delightful young
scamp he has become by this time, I
'He is still alive?'
' Oh, yes. He is here with his father.
I have not seen him, but I hear he is a
wonderfully precocious lad ; far too old
for his age. But then what else could you
expect from his bringing-up. He is out
yachting with John. Be-cahned, I sup-
pose they are, or we should have had
the pleasure of their company. When I
saw^ Petrovsky here this afternoon, I
thought of the boy at once. Is it on hi&
account his father is here ? Petrovsky is
as deep as the sea — he is not here for
nothing. Is he going to bleed Lance
Penhala ? I hope Lance won't give him
a penny, not even for the boy. Whatever
money passes into his possession is meltedin
the one crucible — The Cause. If Lance is
wise, and w^^nts to do the boy good, he will
pay his school-bills direct to the school-
master, and not let Petrovsky have the
fingering of a single coin.'
' You think he would appropriate it to
his own uses ? Surely he would not
be so dishonest, Lady Penruddach ?'
Lady Penruddach smiled again. She
found the freshness of the parson's decorous
little wife rather amusing, even while she
half-doubted its genuineness.
' These conspirators have another name
for it, my dear,' she said. ' lA^hat we
ignoramuses would call dishonesty, they
call patriotism. " The Cause " is their
whole creed ; and nothing else — honour,
truth, honesty — is of the slightest conse-
quence by comparison. On other matters
their ideas of rio;ht and wrono^ are as clear
as yours or mine perhaps, it is only when
the good of The Cause is in question
that the rules which govern other people's
conduct have no meaning for them. This
man, Petrovsky, for instance — if Lance
Penhala were to hand a thousand pounds
over to him for the education of his boy,
he would consider it his sacred duty to
pass it on at once to one of his rascally
centres, for the manufacture of bombs, or
the printing of seditious pamphlets.
There is not one of them who would not
sell his soul for money, if the price offered
were large enough to compensate The
Cause for the loss of a supporter. It is a
grand idea, too, when you take the trouble
to look into it. It is martyrdom under
another name ; one of the last real en-
thusiasms left to us in this over-civilised
Mrs. Yarlstoke opened her pretty brown
eyes at this expression of approval ; she
was beginning to think that the people in
the parish she had left must be a little
behind their generation. But though she
was startled she was candidly interested.
It was delightful to find herself in contact
with a person of the Petrovsky type. The
experience was altogether new to her. The
parish in which she had lived since her
marriage, was one of those quiet, humdrum,
PENH ALA. 25
correct communities, whicli go on their
way, year in year out, without the faintest
^excitement to break their formal monotony.
Tennis-parties, at-homes, and an occasional
carpet-dance, had hitherto given sufficient
variety to her life to satisfy her most lofty
ambition, but those innocent forms of
dissipation faded into insipidity by the side
of this new experience. To hold personal
communication with a man who was more
than suspected of complicity in the
nihilist movement — and a prince to boot !
What an enchanting piece of news to send
in her next letter to her staid, plodding
Essex friends ; those friends who had so
pathetically bemoaned her fate in being
* banished to an outlandish, uncivilised
parish, at the extreme end of Cornwall.'
How gladly they would have submitted to
banishment under similar conditions.
She was a good little thing, this pleasant,
pretty matron of twenty-nine, and she was
very determined to do her duty in that
state of life into which it had pleased God
to call her, but it was a fact that, for the
present, all thoughts of parochial affairs —
of choir practisings, and clandestine meet-
ings between young men and women of
great social disparity, and all such trifling
matters — were completely driven out of
her head by the more interesting subject
of Petrovsky, the Patriot and Prince !
Some time later in the afternoon. Lady
Penruddach, with a mind still full of the
story she had heard from Mrs. Yarlstoke,
contrived to secure a tete-d-tete with
Stanislaus Petrovsky. She had come to
the decision that, after all, men were better
judges of these matters than women.
Petrovsky was a man of the world, he
would know how to handle the affair
better than she ; she would tell him every-
thing, and leave it to him to manage things
his own way.
If John had only been at home himself,
the well-meaning old woman would j)roba-
bly have gone straight to him. But John
was out yachting, and was not expected
home until the wind shifted a point or two ;
for the Carn Ruth harbour was one of
those awkward little havens, common
enough on that stretch of coast, which can
only be entered with safety when there is
exactly the right amount of wind blowing,
from exactly the right quarter.
But for this accidental absence of John's,
the chances are that Stanislaus Petrovsky
would have accomplished the purpose of
his visit to Penhala, and gone his way back
to the Continent again, without hearing a
word to his nephew's disadvantage.
On such trivial chances as these, as far
as our finite vision reveals to us, does our
destiny for good or evil depend. And yet
who dares to assert that in all God's
scheme of creation there exists such a
thing as chance ?
And, even if one be found bold enough
to assert it, how shall he prove it ? How ?
PETROVSKY TAKES THE REINS.
It was in the Penhala dining-room that
the confidential interview between Lady
Penruddach and Petrovsky took place.
She had asked for a cnp of tea, and he had
taken her there to get it ; for Penhala, with
his usnal lavish hospitality, was keeping
open house to-day, and the appetite that
could not find something to suit its taste
among the variety and profusion of the
Penhala tables, would have been hard to
When he had attended to Lady Pen-
ruddach's wants, Petrovsky provided Mm-
self with a large plateful of early
raspberries, which he dressed with sugar
and port-wine, and attacked with great
enjoyment, much to the old English-
But she had somethino; far more im-
portant to discuss with her host's brother-
in-law than his infantile love of sweets,
and she was not given to straw-splitting
when she had once made up her mind to
a course of action.
In a very few minutes Petrovsky knew
all she knew concerning the flirtation be-
tween Hagar Polwhele and John Penhala,
and he also knew what she suspected of
Mrs. Polwhele's influence in the afl*air.
' The very spirit of mischief must be in
the boy,' she declared, irritably moving
her fan to and fro violentlv, as if she must
needs find some outlet for her vexation,
and making herself very hot with the
exertion. ' To think that he must needs
go and mix himself up with that particular
family ! I should like to o^ive him a sfood
Petrovsky smiled at her excess of
energy ; up to the present he was not at
all interested in the affair ; this red-faced
old lady was doubtless exaggeratino; the
whole thing, as her kind always did.
' Then it is not the indiscretion itself
which arouses your anger,' he said, ' but
John's want of taste in his choice of the
object.' Petrovsky 's English was perfect;
the onlv si2:n of unfamiliaritv he ever o;ave
was the choice of a stilted phrase now and
' It is because I know what the girl's
mother is,' snapped back her ladj'ship, her
irritation increased by his cynical tone.
' I hear a good deal about the Carn Ruth
people from my maid — who is a Carn Ruth
woman herself — and this girl's mother
bears anything but a good character in
the town. If she once gets John Penhala
in her clutches, he wdll have to pay a
pretty price to get free again — one does
not need to be very far-sighted to see that.
I'll be bound she has done more to en-
courage the boy's folly than the girl her-
self I understood the child was o^oins; to
marry one of the captains from the Cluth-
hoe mine. Morris Edyvean doesn't look
the man to stand aside and give place to
another. He'll be another person for John
to reckon with, if harm comes to the girl.
Altogether, Mr. Petrovsky, your nephew
has made about the bio^o-est mess of it that
w^as possible. I should not like to be the
person to tell Lancelot Penhala of his son's
'Why?' asked Petrovsky, still eating
his raspberries with that faint smile of
amusement on his colourless face. ' Lance
does not take much heed of the cost, so
long as his darling is pleased. That last
whim of his — to go to Italy to have his
voice trained — do you know what it cost
his father? Two thousand pounds ! Two
thousand pounds for a whim. What use
is he ever likely to make of his voice ?
Then this craze for drawino'-room mao^ic.
They spend a small fortune on the folly.
And now, if he has a fancy for a pretty
face, do you think his father would refuse
it to him, or trouble himself about the
' Yes, I do !' Lady Penruddach was get-
ting horribly angry with this wretched
foreigner, who took so little interest in his
nephew, that he could not lay down his
spoon and give the boy's affairs a serious
VOL, I. D
thouglit. ' I do think Peiihala would
trouble himself very much indeed about
this business. He has spoilt the boy, of
course, — we all know that, — but I am cer-
tain he would not encourage him in selfish
vice. Lance Penhala is a gentleman, Mr.
Petrovsky ; if John brings this girl to
shame, and it comes to his father's ears,
there will be permanent mischief between
them, you may take my word for it.'
' But it would not matter much in the
long run, would it? However angry the
good Lance might be, he has not the power
to punish the boy very severely. He could
not threaten to disinherit him, for instance.
Your English law of primogeniture would
step in to prevent that.'
' You are wrong, even in that view of the
case !' retorted the angry old woman, too
exasperated by his persistent attitude of
indifference, to give much heed to her own
words. ' Even from the lowest stancli^oint
of all, John is committing a fatal error, in
arousing his father's anger, for the Penhala
money has never been settled. The man
who made it all — this man's grandfather —
left it by will to his eldest son, and he left
it in the same way to Lancelot. The house
and land — the old farmstead, in fact — must
go down from father and son. But what
good would Penhala's house do anybody
without the money to keep it up ? And
the money Lancelot can will as he pleases.'
There was not the faintest show of sur-
prise or excitement in Petrovsky's manner
as he listened. He went on methodically
spooning up large spoonfuls of his crushed
raspberries and port- wine, with every out-
ward sign of enjoyment. And yet if, at
that moment, the luscious mess could have
been changed by some trick into a heap of
sea-sand, he would probably have gone on
spooning it up, without a change of coun-
tenance, in complete ignorance of the trans-
formation. In that earlier part of his life
which had been spent at the Russian Court
— before he had been compelled by an un-
fortunate mistake on the part of one of his
servants, as to the destination of two letters
which he had to deliver, to fly for his life
from the presence of the sovereign whose
death he had schemed to encompass, even
while in receipt of his personal favours —
during that period of perpetual dissimula-
tion, when it had grown to be a second
nature with him to act always outwardly
in direct opposition to his actual feelings —
even in those trying years he had, perhaps,
never experienced a more sudden surprise
than at this moment, when Lady Penrud-
dach made that matter-of-fact announce-
ment — ' And the money Lance can will as
PENH ALA. 37
But, startled as he was, the vivid in-
stincts of his old training were too firmly
implanted in his nature, to allow any token
of his astonishment to escape him.
The money that this impetuous old lady
spoke of so easily, the money that Lance
' could bequeath as he pleased,' what was
it that Petrovsky had heard about it ?
Surely it was some great sum — great even
in the estimation of a Russian noble ?
Was it a cjuarter of a million sterling, or
more ? His wife — the poor sentimental
Henrietta — had had thirty thousand as her
marriage portion. And of what immense
use that thirty thousand had been ! It
had almost accomplished one of the great-
est ends he and his fellow- workers had in
view — almost ! But the money had reach-
ed its end first. That was always the way
of it. These levers, prepared with such
infinite pains and exquisite ingenuity for the
overtoppling of dynastic oppression, perfect
as they were in themselves, failed always
from the one cause, want of money. Money
was the only falcrum which would raise the
levers, and money was the one needful
thins: lackino; anion o^ the workers. And
here, lying at the feet of one of the most earn-
est of the brotherhood, was money ; heaps
of it ; and all that Avas needed was a little
skill in the manner of stooping to pick it
up. Stoop ? Of course it was needful to
stoop, it might even be needful to go on
stooping until the back grew double, and
it was no longer possible to recover an
upright position at will. But of what ac-
count was that, ao^ainst the o^ain to The
Cause ? A quarter of a million sterling !
and to complain because the picking of it
Tip might produce a pain in the back !
No wonder there was no longer any
taste in the raspberries and port ! Xo
PENH ALA. 39
w.onder there was a rather long silence
between the two people in the stately
dining-room of Penhala's house.
Lady Penruddach was enjoying her
little triumph over her antagonist, and
would not break the silence, imputing it
to his inability to reply.
It was not until the plateful of wine
and fruit had disappeared, and Petrovsky's
beard — flaxen and crisp like his hair —
had been carefully cleansed from the last
suggestion of sticky moisture, that he
'That is news to me,' he said then,
showing at last a natural amount of in-
terest in the subject, ' and I am surprised.
I knew the Penhalas had not Avon their
wealth by robbing their weaker neigh-
bours, at the date of the Xorman Conquest,
as so many of the Old English families
boast of doing. I even think I knew that
their money had been gained honestly,
and that they had not always been rich.
But, for all that, I was under the impres-
sion that nine-tenths of their possessions
-were bound to descend from father to son
in the direct line, as they do in other
famiUes. I confess this news has altered
my view of the matter, Lady Penruddach.
And you really believe that if Lance
heard of John's youthful indiscretion he
would disinherit him? Well, perhaps that
is going a little too far. After all, it is
nothing absolutely unpardonable that our
dear boy has done, and we must take care
that in his ignorance of the world he is
not led into deeper folly, that he is not
led into doing anything that would really
rouse his father to such extreme measures.'
Her ladyship gave a sharp snort of con-
tempt ; she always declared she had lived
too long in the world to have any faith
PENH ALA. 41
left in human nature, but she was dis-
gusted all the same whenever she found a
fellow- creature impervious to all consid-
erations but those of loss and gain, — ' and
if I can do John a good turn I will. I
owe it to his father's son — Lancelot has
undertaken the education of my boy Paul,
Lady Penruddach ; he has behaved most
generously to me ; I shall be glad to be
able to make him some little return by
freeing John from this ^x^ if he will per-
mit me to. But you must not exj^ect too
much from my interference, Lady Pen-
ruddach ; boys at his age are not fond of
' Yery well then,' said her ladyship,
closing her fan with a snap and rising
In spite of all his elaborate caution
there was something in the Russian's
manner, as he announced his willingness
to serve his brother-in-law, which grated
on her sense of fitness ; the true ring was
wanting in his declaration of good-will ;
she instinctively mistrusted him, and
wished she had acted on her first impulse
and gone straight to Penhala himself.
'• Will you order my carriage, if you
please ?' she said, closing the discussion
at once with a promptness peculiarly her
own. She did not care to hear any more
of Petrovsky's anxiety to help John, and
there were very few people in the world
who could make Lady Penruddach do a
thing against her own will.
The shrewd old woman had rightly
guessed the Russian's motive for this visit
to Cam Ruth. There was another big
affair approaching a crisis, in that mys-
terious territory known as ' Underground
Russia,' and the lot of chief instrument
having fallen upon Petrovsky, it had be-
come necessary for him to put his head in
the lion's mouth again — in other words, to
return to Russia, where, if the authorities
once got wind of his presence there, his life
would be measured by days. Under these
circumstances he had at last devoted a
little thought to his duty as a father, and
this pilgrimage to Carn Ruth was the
Having once obtained Penhala s promise
to look after the boy Paul for a few years,
there was no longer a single human
anxiety to stand between him and his de-
votion to any dangerous duty The Cause
might demand of him. Paul's future once
assured, he was willing to risk his life, or
to lose it, at any moment, if the loss would
advance by so much as a hair's-breadth the
movemcDt for which he had already sacri-
ficed so much. It was true that to-night
he had found cause to regret that his stay
in Cornwall was of necessity so limited.
Had his time been his own, he could
surely have put that startling information
concerning the Penhala heritage to some
good use. Short as his time was — for by
that day fortnight he was due in a tiny
village, close to the railway, on the
borders of the Caucasian province — he
yet hoped to do something towards turn-
ing the news to his own purposes. If
Paul had been but a few years older !
But, child as he was, he would have
to trust him. And indeed there were
many grown men to whom he would
less willingly have confided a perilous
scheme than this little lad of eleven.
These years of association with the most
advanced thinkers in the movement, had
had the right effect on the boy's heart and
mind; through and through he was just
w^hat his father would have had him ; the
blood of the true martyr breed was already
in him — to his boyish enthusiasm the world
and all it held was as nothing, when
weighed against the progress of The Cause.
And this being so, his father had decided
to take him into his confidence with regard
to the Penhala heritage.
Petrovsky sighed in spirit as he came to
the co.nclusion. He was human, after all,
and Paul was his only child, and it was
hard on the boy that all the joyousness
of his childhood should be extinguished
by these eternal plots. These few days he
had spent in his uncle's house, he had been
as bright ^nd happy and thoughtless as a
boy of his age had a right to be. It had
seemed as though he had left all his young
precocity, his fits of heavy thought, his
crude, childish plans for the wholesale
extinction of their enemies, behind him,
with the people who had fostered them.
And his father had been glad to see the
change, and had even felt some faint hope
that, as the boy grew up among his mother's
prosaic English relations, his sympathy
with The Cause might weaken, and he might
be allowed to develop into a peaceful
citizen of the British Empire, contented,
placid, and respectable.
But now he knew this thing was im-
possible. The Cause demanded yet another
victim, and, though it was his own son, he
could not withhold the sacrifice.
AVhat he could not do himself in the
matter of the Penhala heritage, must be
left in Paul's hands to accomplish; in Paul's
small hands, broad and square at the fin-
ger tips; in Paul's hands, which would grow
larger with the on-coming years, and
stronger, and more capable of grasping
and keeping a hold on what they grasped.
And havino' come to this decision he
went clown and dined tete-a-tete with his
host, and made himself ao^reealDle durino:
the meal, and slept for a few hours after-
wards — the light wary sleep that is
habitual with these opponents of established
authority, a sleep which leaves their sense
of hearing still on outpost duty at the
portals of their understanding, eternally on
guard against a surprise.
He was up and out again in the morn-
ing before any of the resident household
were astir ; his brain was too busy to tole-
rate inaction once its need of rest was
satisfied. He heard the stable-clock strike
five as he descended the echoing staircase,
and made his way out into the freshness
of the summer's mornino-. The sultrv
stillness of the preceding day had given
place to a south-westerly breeze, which
met him as he opened the terrace door,
and wooed him with kisses sweet with
the unadulterated freshness of the broad
His life had been too full of projects
and plans to leave him any leisure for the
adoration of Nature ; but standing there
this mornings in that exquisite silence, to
which the faint murmur of the tide on the
rocks below served rather as an accom-
paniment than an interruption — a silence
of which the dwellers in cities know no-
thing — with the scented tips of the pine-
boughs in the plantations on either side
swinging noiselessly to and fro, and the
grass — green here in moist Cornwall even
at the end of July — stretching away from
his feet in soft descending undulations,
until it met the blue purj^le of the sea —
jewel-fretted under the morning sunlight
— as his senses took in the loveliness sur-
rounding him, a faint compunction seized
upon him, a doubt as to whether, after all,
he had chosen the better part of life,
whether his past record of disappointments
was worth all he had spent on it. And,
even as the doubt rose in his mind, he saw
the yacht — John Penhala's yacht, with its
young owner and Paul Petrovsky on
board — slip into view round the green
outline of Tregarron Head, and straight-
way the mind of the plotter was back
among its familiar work again, and the
touch of rsgret was done with and put
away, as a thing that has no use.
The breeze was very light, and the yacht
moved but languidly. Petrovsky lit one
of his eternal cigarettes, and watched the
beautiful little vessel glide slowly across
the width of the Carn Ptuth inlet, until it
passed out of sight under the cliffs at the
foot of the Penhala slope ; then he strolled
quietly down the incline until, at the dis-
tance of a mile from the house, he came to
VOL. I. E
the place where the slope grew suddenly
steeper and descended abruptly to the sea-
It was at this point that the Carn Ruth
river threw itself into the sea ; making its
way down the face of the slope, by a series
of short leaps and deep pools, to the strand
below; and it was by the side of these falls
that the steps leading direct from the
Penhala park to the Penhala landing-stage
had been cut. Not the best place that
could have been chosen for them, perhaps ;
for when the autumn and winter rains had
swollen the little river to three times its
summer height, and the water dashed over
the rocky ledges with a force and volume
that would have carried a horse's body,
without pause or hindrance, from the up-
lands above to the ocean below, the spray
from the dashing waters was apt to make
the steps slippery. They were arranged
in short fligiits, certainly, lout the spaces
between the flights were still on the slope,
and, given a slip on the topmost step, the
chances were all in favour of a roll from
top to bottom of the steep incline.
Looking at the pathway now, danger
was the last thins^ it would have suo^orested.
Here and there down the face of the cliff
were little nooks or hollows, where the
ferns and grasses grew breast-high, and
where the Carn Ruth sweethearts were
fond of sitting in the summer evenings, to
watch the sun set over the mighty stretch
of the Atlantic waters ; while the path
leading inland — through the plantations to
the main drive — was a positive dream of
beauty, because of the overhanging sha-
dows of the pines, mirrored in the still-
ness of the deeper pools, the flashing lights
that were caught and tossed skywards
again from the rapids between, and the
luxuriance of the undergrowth, which was-
allowed to follow its own sweet will un-
checked by the hand of man.
As Petrovsky waited there, where the
path and the river emerged in company
from the shadow of the pines, and went
on their way in company over the edge of
the slope to the sea, the romance of his
surroundings struck him yet once again.
It was an ideal spot for lovers' meetings.
He could imagine the youthful couple
standing a little way back on the edge of
the large black pool, which lay so treach-
erously still in the shadow of the pines^
scarcely a dozen yards distant from the
first leap down the face of the rock, while
they exchanged their poor little vows of
eternal constancy. Yes, it was quite an
ideal place for lovers' meetings ; for, if she
proved unkind, was there not the steep
slope close at hand, from which he could
leap straight from the cruel one's presence
As the sound of voices rose from the
face of the cliff beneath his feet, warning
the waiting man of the approach of those
he had come to meet, he smiled cynically,
and muttered a mental jibe at his own
folly. Twice in half-an-hour he had been
guilty of a touch of sentiment. What
did such an unusual thing portend, he
With a careless shrug of his shoulders
he turned again to the downward path, as
two faces came into vicAv, mounting from
the steps below ; one a small reproduction
of his own, all but the beard — flaxen-
haired, sallow-skinned, square-jawed, full-
lipped, with eyes deep-set and of a dark-
blue colour; the other less remarkable,
but more agreeable. A good, well-tanned,
English skin, chestnut hair, well-opened
brown eyes, a suggestion of fair hair on
the upper lip, a mouth which looked at
its best when smiling, and a chin which
one would expect to find under such a
mouth — massive chins and flexible lips
are not often found in one another's
The mobile lips flashed into a ready
smile now, as their owner glanced upward,
and saw the Russian waiting at the top of
the steps. The boy at his side did not
smile, but his eyes deepened and flushed
under their overhanging brows till his
whole face was alight with feeling, and he
sprang up the few remaining steps almost
at a bound, in his eagerness to clasp his
father's outstretched hand.
Petrovsky stooped and kissed his fore-
head, and giving his left hand into his
ardent young clasp, held out his right to
the more leisurely climber.
' You must not estimate him as a baby,
John, because he is so glad to see hi&
father again,' he said, half-apologetically.
' We have not often been separated for
two days and nights, have we, Paul ?'
' Oh, there's not much of the baby
about him,' declared John, heartily. ' Al-
ready he's as good a yachtsman as I. We
have arranged that he is to be my sailing-
master, as soon as he has finished with
' Only when you don't want me, father,'
put in the boy, hastily ; and a faint colour
flashed into his face, and he drew an inch
or two nearer his father's side, as if to
assure him that he was still first in his
heart and mind. ' It is grand being out
in the yacht, but I don't want to be there
if you want me to be anywhere else.'
Petrovsky laughed gently as he turned
by John's side for the homeward walk.
56 PENH ALA.
• Cousin John will hardly thank you
for such a bargain as that,' he said. ' Per-
haps it would be wiser to defer the con-
tract until we see what the next few years
have in store for us all.' His tone changed
a little as he continued, ' Your father was
disappointed that you were not back in
time for the cottagers' flower-show yester-
day, John. I suppose you were becalmed
a long way out?'
'A pretty good distance,' John answered,
carelessly. * It would have been a good
long pull for the men in the heat; and
Paul and I were so pleasantly occupied
that we did not care to break up our after-
' 1 have learnt three tricks, father,' put
in Paul, eagerly; ' how to swallow an egg
whole and fetch it out from the top of my
head, how to bring a live bird in a cage
from the crown of a hat, and how to pro-
duce any card you ask for from the pack.
Jolin is going to show me some more by-
and-bye. He says '
' Chut !' said Petrovsky. ' He will make
you as enthusiastic over his drawing-room
magic as he is himself. It is a pity you
were not here yesterday, John, to give a
display of your skill to the wit and fashion
of Cam Ruth. And that reminds me,' he
added, and turning suddenly to Paul, he
sent him forward on some trifling excuse,
and bade him wait for them at the terrace-
' That is not the only reason why it was
a pity you were not here yesterday,' he
-continued, when the boy was beyond ear-
shot. ' Do you know why I came down to
meet you this morning, John?'
John's ready smile came at the question.
He was a little inclined in his heart to
make fun of his uncle, to call him a nine-
teenth century Guy Fawkes, and to poke
sly jokes at his bombs, and mines, and
plottings, and conspiracies. He was smil-
ing now at tbe touch of mystery in his
manner, and saying to himself that the
man was such a born conspirator, that he
could not discuss the most everyday affair
without making a secret of it. But he was
a Penhala guest, and a guest, too, not in
the most flourishing circumstances, and
John was too courteous to chafl* him as he
would have liked.
' Had it anything to do with Paul ?' he
asked. ' Did our long absence make you
anxious ? Perhaps you came down to see
for yourself that the little chap was all safe
He was still smiling as he made the
suggestion, a pleasant, sympathetic smile
it was, and meant to show that he could
quite understand the father's anxiety under
' No,' said Petrovsky. slowly ; ' Paul
was scarcely in my mind : it was you I
was thinking of, not Paul. I came to meet
you because I wanted to say a word or two
to you in private, without the fear of being
overheard. Especially I wanted to avoid
any chance of your father overhearing
what I am going to say.'
John, with his hands in the pockets of
his loose blue serge trousers, and his
peaked yachting-cap pushed rakishly to
the back of his head, turned a glance of
enquiry on his companion. Had he really
anything important to say, or was it only
that his inveterate habit of mystification
would not be shaken off?
Petrovsky answered the look with one
of shrewd intelligence.
' People were busy with your affairs in
your absence yesterday,' lie said. ' Who
is this Hagar Polwhele, whose name is
being mixed up so freely with yours ?'
The blood flashed up to John's hair-
roots. Just for an instant he tried to laugh
the attack off as not worth attention ; but
Petrovsky's investigating glance was on
him, and he knew that flush had betrayed
him, and so, instead of laughing the thing
down, he fell into a passion.
' Whose slanderous tongue is at work
now ?' he cried. ' Is it that Morris Edy-
vean again ? I'll make the bullying brute
pay for it if it is. I told him last time
that I wouldn't put up quietly with any
more of his interference. Because he's
the biggest man in the parish, he thinks
he can dictate to the lot of us ; but knock-
ing a man down isn't the only way of
wiping out a grudge, as I'll soon prove to
him if he doesn't leave me and my affairs
With the rapid insight born of his past
training, Petrovsky pieced this defiance on
to the hint dropped by Lady Penruddach,
and drew his own inferences.
' Then Miss Hagar has two strings to
her bow,* he said, quietly; 'and this
Edyvean is the other ; and there is a little
ill-blood between you ; and there was
some truth after all in the little story I
heard the birds whispering to one another.'
John said nothing. His little flash in
the pan was over, and he was wishing he
had held his tongue. Petrovsky looked
up the slope at the house, where Paul
stood leaning on the terrace balustrade
waiting for them. It was not yet six
o'clock, and the little lad was the only
62 PENH ALA.
sifirn of life to be seen alons: the wide low
front of the sleeping house.
' I wish we knew a little more of each
other,' he went on, letting his voice fall
to a more confidential key, though indeed
there was no possibility of their being
overheard; ' as man to man I should like
to speak candidly to you — but we are
such strangers '
' All right !' said John, as he paused.
John was feeling savage, but he did not
feel justified in sulking with Petrovsky ;
perhaps the subtle touch of flattery in the
phrase, ' as man to man,' addressed by a
man of Petrovsky's age to one of his own,
may have also influenced him.
' All right ! Fire away ! Well take the
intimacy for granted. Say what you want
' Well, then, it is this. Drop the Pol-
whele afl'air. Don't risk its getting to your
father's ears. Leave her and the other
fellow — what is it ? Eclyvean — to make a
match of it '
' I wish to God I could !' burst forth
John, irrepressibly, and stopped dead,
with Petrovsky's penetrating eyes on him.
' So bad as that ?' he muttered.
John pulled his cap forward, as if the
sunshine had 2:rown suddenly too strono:
for his eyes, and stared moodily at the
grass at his feet.
' It's as bad as it can be,' he said.
There was a short silence between them.
The elder man's eyes left the gloomy
young face for a moment to travel in a
rapid comprehensive glance around him,
at the house, the pasture lands, and the
little town nestling at the foot of the
brown cliiFs on the other side of the inlet.
All of it Penhala property, all of it some
dav to belona* to this bov, unless !
Another flash of his eye towards the
solitary little figure, waiting so quietly on
the terrace in the shadow of the house ^
' What do you mean to do ?'
' There is only one thing to be done.'
' You would marry her ? . . . . Good
heavens, John, you must not do that!'
'What then?' asked John, lifting his
miserable young eyes from the ground.
'Cut my throat? I don't see any other
way out of it. Perhaps you don't know
what a woman's reproaches are like '
' Pish !' said Petrovsky, refusing to
waste argument on that j)art of the sub-
ject. ' Look here ! What if you could stop
the reproaches,without sacrificing yourself?'
' What if I could put Magara into a
thimble ?' came the hopeless reply.
Petrovsky put his hand on the other's
' What would you say to the man who
showed you how to do it ?'
John did not answer, but a glimmer of
hope shot into his glance.
The Russian threw another half furtive
look towards the waiting figure on the
' Come over under the trees,' he said ;
' nobody will see us there ; what I'm going
to say can't be said in a breath.'
John turned without demur, and follow-
ed him across the grass to the shadow of
the pines, with an increased air of hope-
fulness in his face and whole bearing.
And an hour later when the gardeners
came bustling about the lawns, anxious to
remove all traces of yesterday's disorder
before the master came on the scene, Paul
was still on the terrace, waiting patiently,
as he had been bidden.
But for his impregnable faith in his
VOL. T. F
€6 PENH ALA.
father, he might have believed himself
forgotten ; but he knew better than that.
He had heard it said that ' Stanislaus
Petrovsky never forgot,' and of his own
knowledge he knew the saying was true.
So he waited patiently, as one who waits
with a purpose.
THE WATERS WERE RACING DOWNHILL TO
Ox the clay following their long interview
in the plantation, John Penhala and Stan-
islaus Petrovsky travelled to London to-
gether. The decision on John's part was
quite sudden, but there was nothing to
object to in it.
Though Petrovsky had not spoken openly
of the danger he was going into, there was
an impression in Penhala's mind that his
brother-in-law's anxiety to secure little
68 PENH ALA.
Paul's future, arose from his doubt concern-
ing his own. On one occasion he had gone
so far as to say the chances were all against
his ever revisiting England, speaking in a
quiet, unemotional manner which gave his
words the impress of truth.
Under these circumstances, Penhala had
been glad when John decided to go to town
with his uncle, 'to see him off;' for, mis-
guided though his efforts appeared to the
Englishman's law-abiding understanding,
he would not have neglected one of the
smallest duties of hospitality towards a
man who was so obviously ' down on his
So John and the Russian journeyed to
London together, and when, two days later,
pretty Hagar Polwhele also left Carn Ruth,
on a visit to her mother's relatives in Lon-
don, nobody thought of associating the two
events, for Petrovsky's companionship
seemed to prohibit such a suggestion.
Later in the year people were not so
reticent, but before then many things had
happened. And, as far as the Penh alas were
concerned, one of the most important of
these was the imprisonment and execution
of Petrovsky. He was caught red-handed,
and he died as he had always wished to
die — for the good of The Cause.
Paul was at Rugby when it happened,
and Penhala went himself to break the
news to the lad, hoping by his presence to
soften the boy's feeling of desolation.
But, by some unknown means, the news
had already reached Paul before his ar-
rival, and the kind-hearted Cornishman
was considerably nonplussed by the young-
ster's unnatural bearing under the blow.
' It was a good death to die,' he said,
standing up straight and steady before his
astonished uncle, with a still, quiescent
glow in his deep-set eyes. ' If I could
choose how to die, I would die that way
too ; but not yet. I will get to be well
known first, as he was, and then my death
will do good, as his will. When we die
like that we make the people's hearts burn
with the hope of revenge, and they count
their own lives as straw, and it is worth
dying for, to make them feel like that.'
Poor Lancelot Penhala looked at the boy
in a ridiculous perplexity. Conventional
condolences would be thrown away upon
such a truculent young revolutionist as
this. He made a few remarks to the elFect
that Paul would know better by and by^
and that he was to look upon him as his-
father in future, and to consider Penhala's
house his home. And having done his
duty in this respect, he got himself out of
the youngster's presence as quickly as he
In spite of its tragic nature, the absurd
incongruity of the situation tickled his
sense of humour. He had come to comfort
this child in his grief for the loss of his
father, and the child had tacitly rebuked
him for believing he was such a fool as to
grieve at all. It was Lance Penhala who
was the babe, and Paul Petrovsky who was
the philosophic man of the world. And
Lance had made himself responsible for the
up-bringing of this budding revolutionist I
He beo;an to understand somethino^ of the
hen's distress, when the duckling she has
hatched takes to the water. Revolution and
its tricks and manners were not at all in
Penhala's line. He comforted himself, how-
ever, with the reflection that Paul's enthu-
siasm would probably fade with time ;
time and disuse. Certainly it would re-
ceive little encouragement at Rugby; for
if there was one place in the world more
72 PENH ALA.
than another where such high falutin' was
likely to be knocked out of the boy, that
one place was an English public school.
So Lancelot returned again to his big
house on the Cornish upland, and tried to
fill his life with his duties to his neigh-
bours, noble and simple. But those
autumn months hung heavily, for he was
accustomed to John's company at this par-
ticular season, and this year John had
chosen to absent himself more than usual
from the neighbourhood of Carn Ruth.
It was in the nature of things that Lance
Penhala, being the person most concerned
in his son's absence, should be the last to
hear a hint as to its cause. Folks in the
town had been talking busily for weeks
before a breath of the rumour reached his
Hagar Polwhele w^as back in her mother s
bar aofain, though the women declared it
PENH ALA. 73
■was past tlieir knowledge to understand
how she had the face to show herself
among the customers, in the place where
she had been born and bred.
And Mrs. Polwhele, meeting the elliptic
glances of some of them, tossed her head in
R way that puzzled, even while it shocked
them. On one occasion, when these mean-
ing glances had been more than usually
trying to bear, she lost her self-command
for a moment, and, addressing nobody in
particular, observed that she thought Carn
Ruth folks might safely leave her to fight,
ay, and to win, her daughter's battles
without any of their interference ; which
remark naturally set the tongues wagging
faster than ever.
And Morris Edyvean still came regu-
larly every evening, and smoked his pipe
quietly in the parlour of the ' Miner's Rest,'
and saw and heard all there was to see
and hear ; and said nothing. But there
was a certain grimness settling on his face,
which was something new in his mates'
knowledge of him. Though he came so
persistently among them, he showed so
plainly his desire to be left alone, that
there was no choice left to them in the
matter ; and it grew to be no uncommon
thing for the young overseer — once the
most popular man in the Cluth-hoe mine
— to pass an entire evening smoking
and drinking alone in his corner, with-
out exchanging a sign of comrade-ship
with his fellows, beyond a curt nod as
they entered or left the room.
Since Hagar's visit to London at the
end of July, he had finally given up
singing in the choir, greatly to Mrs. Yarl-
stoke's regret ; for the loss of his magnifi-
cent voice and his imposing figure created
a vacancy which she was likely to find
some difficulty in filling.
And it was not until a few days before
Christmas, that the first faint breath of
this brooding mischief reached the ears
of the lonely man in the big house on
the hill. And even then, so delicately
was the truth hinted at, that if he had not
been peculiarly sensitive in all matters
concerning his son, the chances are that
he would have still remained in ignorance
of what the speaker intended to convey.
But the introduction of John's name into
a discussion had at any time the effect
of quickening his perceptions to an extra-
ordinary degree, and so it was that the
half word let drop in his presence had an
effect the speaker scarcely anticipated.
It was at the weekly meeting of magis-
trates that this awakening came to him, and
his way home afterwards led him past the
^ Miner's Rest.'
Hagar, with the sleeves of her loose red
flannel blouse rolled up above her dimpled
elbows, and with a large, white bibbed
apron muffling her entire figure, was
busily at work among the glasses and
bottles on the shelves behind the bar.
when Mr. Penhala pushed open the swing
door leading from the street, and, coming
down the two steps, crossed slowly to the
counter. Hagar, facing the mirror, recog-
nised the broad shoulders and handsome,
clean-shaven features of her mother's land-
lord at a glance, and, with a stifled ex-
clamation, caught with both hands at the
edge of the shelf just above her head, to
save herself from falling. Perhaps for
ten seconds she hung there, insensible to
everything but the terror of the thought
that she must face round, sooner or later,
and supply the wants of this unAvelcome
The bar was empty but for themselves,
and the silence in the quaint, gay little
place was more pregnant with meaning
than the most impressive speech. Indeed,
when speech came, the height of the crisis
was past. The consciousness of this came
to Hagar instantly, with his first word.
The studied unconcern of his tone told
her that much — that he had not come to
make his accusation. With a dry sob of
relief she loosened her clutch on the shelf,
and faced round to him.
' Will you give me a glass of your best
Instinctively she performed her duty,
caring for nothing only that he should
not attack her openly, while he had her
there, defenceless, at his mercy. As her
hand closed round the pump-handle in
drawing his ale, she felt, rather than saw,
his glance fix itself on a ring she wore on
the third iinger of her right hand. The
terror of the knowledge went through her
like a pang of physical pain ; still she
would not mind so long as he did not
attack her to her face, while she was
there alone with him. As she went to-
wards him with his glass in her shaking
hand, she felt to the innermost core of
her being the full meaning of the com-
prehensive glance he threw over her, from
the 2)retty rings of dark hair above her
forehead, to the hem of the big, white, dis-
figuring apron. But, conscious as she was
of her shame in his sight, even this emo-
tion was pushed into the background by
her overpowering relief at the every-day
tone of his ' Thank you.'
She would probably have a sharp attack
of hysterics when he was gone, but mean-
PENH ALA. 79
time she took his shilling, and passed his
change back to him, and went and fetched
her duster from the back of the bar, where
she had left it, and made a show of dust-
ing the pump handles, heedless of her own
death-like pallor, heedless of her shaking
hands, caring for nothing, except that this
courteous, observant gentleman, should
take himself off without saying what she
had, at the beginning, feared he had come
Poor, frivolous little Hagar, caring for
nothing but the joy or pain of the jDresent
moment ! Poor, feeble little ephemera !
It were well that you should not outlast
the trembling joy and triumph that is hid
away in your heart just now, for all its
quaking at this alarming encounter, that
you should not see the going doAvn of
the sun on the day of your transient
80 PENH ALA.
When Lancelot Penhala found himself
in the light of day again, he groaned
aloud. He was not conscious of it him-
self, but a wee child passing looked up
at him, with so much sympathetic sur-
prise in her small face, that he guessed he
must be making himself conspicuous in
some way. Pulling himself up sharply,
he set a guard on himself, and gained the
shelter of his own house without arousing
Both the boys were due home that day
— John between two and three, Paul not
until nine. John had hinted at a desire
to spend Christmas in town, but his father
had put pressure on him to induce him to
come home for the festive season. He was
doubly glad now that he had.
Luncheon, usually at two o'clock sharp,
had been put off till the young master's
arrival, and Penhala, instead of meeting
him in the hall, according to invariable
custom, awaited his coming in the library ;
a well-used room in that house, for the
master was a real lover of books.
John knew part of the truth before he
got to his father's presence. He read it
in the butler's troubled face, as he stood
at the top of the steps in the great porch ^
holding the house door wide for him, and
saw corroboration in the man's anxious
manner, as he told him the master was
waitino^ in the librarv for him.
John's step was lighter than his heart as
he ran down the length of the big hall and
round a side passage to the library door.
How he managed out of the difficultv.
even for the time being, heaven, or the
other power, alone knows. His lies must
have rained like hail. He certainly did
succeed in staving off his father's wrath at
the moment, though he must have known
VOL. I. G
such weakness could only add to the
trouble in the future.
' Very well,' said Penhala, at the close
of the interview, ' I accept your explana-
tion upon one condition — that the girl re-
turns your mother's ring to you to-night.
If you have had no hand in the mischief
that is brewing there, if you handed the
ring to her in a moment of folly, because
she wanted to see how a diamond ring
looked on her finger, if there is nothing
more in it than that, there can be no real
difficulty in making her return it. Come
to me this evening with the ring in ^^our
possession, and I will try to believe what
you tell me. Let us drop the whole thing
now, if you please. It sickens me. I
hope to God you may never again make
me feel as I felt when I saw that
child wearing your mother's ring this
morning. I'm not sure that my aifection
PENH ALA. 83
for you would stand many such wrenches
— not at all sure/
Morris Edyvean arrived at the ' Miner's
Rest ' earlier than usual that evening. It
still wanted a quarter of six when he came
into the bar, kicking his boots free of
trodden snow at the door ; for the weather
had broken since sunset, and there was
<3very promise of a real, seasonable Christ-
mas of the good, old-fashioned type.
When he had rid his boots and coat of
snow, Edyvean made his way as usual to
Mrs. Polwhele's end of the bar — Hagar
and he never showed consciousness of each
other's presence in these days — and asked
for his usual dose of whisky. He stood
there for a minute or so talking to Mrs.
Polwhele,with his shoulder towards Hagar,
persuading himself pitifully that nobody
saw his hungry eyes watching the girl's
reflection in the mirror facing him. It
was the only sight he ever got of her now
— these stolen glances in the looking-glass
behind her mother's bar — but, even so, he
saw that of her which he would gladly
have given bis two hands not to see ; that
which made him set his teeth close on the
stem of his short pipe, and register many
a vow of vengeance against some unnamed
person, in the fulness of time. He was
only holding off till events justified his
suspicions, and then He could afford
to wait, he declared doggedly; there was
nothino' else left to him now but to wait.
Ay, to wait till his chance came, and then
to take it — to take it to the full, and let
the Afterwards care for itself.
While he stood there, exchanging ori-
ginal remarks with his hostess on the
seasonableness of this sudden fall of snow,
keeping meantime his furtive watch on
the mirror behind her, he saw one of the
PENH ALA. 85
stable-lads from Penliala's house come up
to the counter, and pass a note across to
Hagar. As she turned a little aside to
read the line or two of the enclosure, he
watched the face of his whilom sweetheart
carefully, lifting his glass, and sipping
slowly at his grog meanwhile.
Was it anger or gladness that brought
the quick warm blood flashing up into her
face as she read, till she looked for the
moment like the bright, thoughtless Hagar
of a year ago ?
The flush was still there when she
slipped the letter into her pocket, and
watching her opportunity, when her mother
was unoccupied for a moment, called her
to the back of the bar, and evidently
communicated the contents of the note.
Edyvean, with his glance openly on the
mirror now, for there was no longer any-
body at leisure to observe him, made out
that Mrs. Polwhele was first indignant and
then furious at what Hagar was saying to
her ; that she argued and remonstrated
with all her might against some proposi-
tion of her daughter's, and that it ended
in Hagar's open defiance of her mother's
authority. The final words of the argu-
ment were spoken loud enough for every-
body in the bar to hear.
' Go your own wilful way then ; only, if
harm comes of it, don't come to me to set
it right, for I'll have nither pairt nor
passel in the mucky mess, and so I tell
It was only when under the influence
of strong emotion, that Mrs. Polwhele
allowed herself to slip into the use of the
Hao^ar scarcely waited to hear the finish
of her mother's ultimatum ; she swung
round and passed hastily out of the bar^
throwino' an upward glance at the clock
as she went, as if to remind herself that
she had no time to waste.
As Mrs. Polwhele turned to resume her
duties to her customers, Edyvean picked
up his glass and moved away from the
counter to his usual corner, on the other
side of the bar. Setting his glass on the
window-ledge, he reached up in his usual
manner to relight his pipe at the bracket
over his head — scarcely a ' reach up ' for
him because of his enormous height.
But when his pipe was fairly under way
he did not seat himself immediately ; he
stood there until Mrs. Polwhele was thor-
oughly occupied again, and then he moved
over to the door, and stood an instant or
two reading an account of a forthcoming
Christmas feast, that was hanging against
the wall there j and the next time the
door swung open to admit a customer, he
caught it, and passed out before he let it
fall-to again. It was almost as if he
wished to get away without drawing
especial attention to the exact moment of
Once outside and beyond the glare of
the tavern windows, he paused a moment
to turn up the collar of his pilot coat — for
the snow was coming down in earnest now,
and the sensation of melted snow trickling
down inside one's coat collar is something
of a trial, to the most philosophic man
Standing there in the shadow, Edyvean
glanced up and down and across the street,
as if looking out for some particular object,
but as he crossed over to the other side of
the road, there was a dissatisfied dawdle in
his way of moving which showed he had
not found what he was looking for. Here
he waited, pressed well back against the
PENH ALA. 89
projecting corner of one of tlie irregularly
built houses, until lie saw Hagar, w^ell
muffled up and carrying a lantern, come
out of the house opposite, and start off at
a smart walk up the hill, in the direction
of Penhala's house.
Then he drew a deep, big breath, and
treading cautiously, though indeed the
snow underfoot was already thick enough
to deaden his footsteps, he stole after the
little figure ahead.
Creeping along in that stealthy manner,
with bent back and shoulders hunched up
to his ears, his huge form looking larger
than ever ao^ainst the backo;round of univer-
sal whiteness surrounding him, his outlines
blurred and indistinct as they loomed
through the fast falling snow, there was
something almost suggestive of the super-
natural in his whole entourage ; or there
would have been had anybody been there
to receive the suggestion. But they had
the road quite to themselves, those two
figures, the robust and the fragile, the one
a patch of light ahead, the other a mass
of shadow in the rear, and they passed^
unnoticed by the eye of man, up the hill,
in at the gates, and about a third of the
way up the drive that led from the east
lodge to the main front of Penhala's
Here the road crossed, by means of a
handsome little stone bridge, the Carn
Ruth river, and it was on the far bank of
this river that the pathway leading to the
cliff and the Penhala landing-stage lay.
Hagar paused on the bridge and lifted
her lantern above her head, and whistled
shrilly, and waited, listening. But only
the sighing of the pines, and the hoarse
sullen roar of the sea beating against the
foot of the cliffs, and the swift hurrying
rush of the river under her feet, answered
In front of her the drive stretched away
round a bold curve to the house, sheltered
on either side by the wide-reaching planta-
tions ; which had been mapped out sixty
years ago by old Joshua Penhala, to shield
his new house from the biting blasts from
the east. Running away from her on her
left, in a direct line for the sea, was the
river, bordered on either side by these
same pines until it neared the brink of the
clifF, and took its final eager leap into the
Because of the continuous curve of the
drive neither the house nor the lodge could
be seen from the bridge where Hagar
waited. Only the road itself lay white
and smooth for a short distance before and
behind her, until it passed out of sight
round the crowded boles of the pines. The
92 PENH ALA.
plantations themselves were as yet free of
snow underfoot, for there was no wind,
and the snow lay still where it had fallen,
on the interlacing branches of the trees
It was very dreary there alone, with
never a sign of human-kind in sight — for
the man's figure in the rear, keeping well
beyond the radius of light from the lifted
lantern, was invisible among the tree-
trunks — and the waiting girl, looking
keenly about her, up and down the curve
of the white road, and in and out and
about among the blackness of the pines,
grew suddenly conscious of her utter
loneliness, and a horrible shudder seized
her and shook her from head to foot. She
whistled again and the sudden fear at her
heart was discernible in the quavering
weakness of her whistle.
But her alarm was over for the present,
PENH ALA. 93
for at that second whistle a tall, lissom
youth, in gaiters and jacket, came leaping
through the shadow to her side, pouring
forth an eager string of apologies and
regrets as he came.
' What an awful night to bring her out
into ! AVhen his note was written, there
was no sign of this beastly break in the
weather. Had there been he would have
come down to her, instead of bringing her
up to him. But he wanted so much to
have a long talk with her without fear of
interruption ; and it was so sweet of her to
come in spite of the snow.'
Still holding forth with affectionate
solicitude, he drew her in under the trees
out of the storm, and relieved her of the
lantern, and taking off his cloth cap, used
it to flick the snow from her shoulders and
bosom. And then he turned with his arm
round her, and led her along the trodden
path, by the brink of the brawling river.
And the figure on the other bank kept
pace with them, moving along in the shadow,
srlidin^ from tree to tree, never far from
them, but, because of the noisy rapids be-
tween, never actually within ear-shot.
They had gone perhaps half the distance
along the path leading from the drive to the
edge of the cliif when they stopped, and
the lantern was set on a crag overhanging
the rushing stream, from whence it threw
its lii2:ht downwards on the swirlin^', hiss-
ing waters beneath. From here could be
heard the sound of each separate billow as
it broke against the cliffs below. There
had been a spell of westerly gales lately,
until to-day, and now, at high tide, as the
towering breakers came rushing landwards,
flinging themselves furiously against the
first obstacle they had encountered since
PENH ALA. 95
their birtli in mid-ocean, the influence of
those blustering clays was making itself
felfc from end to end of that exposed
Cornish coast, so that the very earth
seemed to vibrate with the accumulated
force of the billows' thunderous blows.
' It's a rough night at sea,' said Hagar,
still with some sign of disquiet in her face.
It was as if the sudden scare that had
fallen upon her up at the bridge ten min-
utes ago, had left its mark behind it in the
dilation of her eyes, and the quickened
rise and fall of her bosom. ' I'm glad
there's no one near or dear to me on the
water to-night, John.'
John did not answer immediatelv. He
stood with his hands tucked in the belt of
his shooting-jacket, staring moodily at the
streaks of light flashing in and out, out
and in, among the hurrying rapids at his
feet. And then, gathering hhnself to-
gether with a burst of desperation, he set
his back towards the lantern against the
rock, and faced his difficulty.
' Why have you not told me about the
visit my father paid you this morning,
Hagar ? '
She left off listening to the thunder of
the billows — it was curious w^hat a fascina-
tion they had for her to-night — and turned
to him wath a touch of self-assertion in her
' I think I might put the same question
to you, John. I was waiting for you to
introduce the subject.'
He waived the childish quibble aside
with a touch of impatience.
' How did he behave to you?'
' Just as Mr. Penhala might be expected
to behave to Hagar Polwhele. Just that,
and nothing more.'
' And yet he has heard — somethinor,
' I guessed that the instant I saw his
face at the open door. What else would
have brought him to the " Miner's Rest "
for a glass of ale ?'
' It has put me in a devil of a fix — his
springing a mine on me in this way. I
had an awful scene with him when I got
home this afternoon.'
'And you had to tell him everything?'
asked Hagar, a sudden eager expectancy
leaping into the glance she gave him.
' Does your father know that I'm his
daughter-in-law, John ?'
She could not see the expression on his
face, but he struck at the ground with his
heel with a vicious petulance, which was
as good as a sight of his eyes.
' You didn't,' she said. ' You broke
your promise. You gave me your word
A'OL. I. H
that, if anybody accused me to your father,
you would clear my name. And you Ve
not done it.'
There were warnings of tears in her
Yoice, and he put his hand quickly on her
shoulder with a comforting gesture.
' Come now, Hagar, what is the use of
going over all that ground again ? I give
you my word that my father does not
think so badly of you as you imagine.
Your main backsliding in his sight is that
you serve the Cluth-hoe miners with pints
of ale with my mother's ring on your
She drew off her woollen glove as he
spoke and looked admiringly at the hand-
some ring. She even held her hand
up so that the stones should catch the
light from the lantern ; and the watcher,
behind a tree on the other side of the
stream, gnashed his teeth in silent frenzy
?is he cauglit the flash of the brilliants,
and saw the passionate admiration in the
' I saw him look at it,' she said. ' I
was half-afraid he would ask me to give
' That is just what he wants,' struck
in John, snatching eagerly at the open-
ing. ' He wants you to give up the ring.'
She closed her hand sharply, and put
it out of sight under her cloak.
' You're not going to ask me to do it, are
you ? You told me I should wear it until
I was able to wear my wedding-ring open-
ly ; you're not going back on your w^ord,
He laughed drearily as she hid her
' You don't suppose I'm going to take it
from you by force ! If you won't give it
up willingly, you must keep it. But I
warn you, if I don't show that ring to my
father to-night, it will mean ruin for us
'Ruin?' she echoed. 'How, John?'
She had never seen her gay, adoring
young husband in this mood until now,
and she was startled by it. ' I don't want
to do you any harm,' she went on ; ' and,
after all, whether the ring is on my finger
or not, it don't make any real difference,
She drew her hand from under her cloak
and be2*an to fino^er the ring^ caressino^ly.
And he, seeing that she was going to yield,
was overcome by a sudden spasm of shame,
so violent and overwhelming, that he spoke
out the very thought that was in his heart,
without any heed for the consequences.
' AYait a minute, Hagar!' he cried, with
a gesture of passionate repudiation. ' I
can't cheat you out of the ring under false
pretences — I've been a blackguard to you
— I can't take the ring from you till you
know, my dear. I've been a mean, coward-
ly cur, but, as there's a God above us, I'll
make reparation !'
' Reparation ?' she repeated, and stood
transfixed ; her hands, in the act of draw-
ing off the ring, raised in front of her, her
lips parted, her horrified, questioning eyes
searching his face for denial of the sudden,
-awful terror at her heart.
' You wonder what I mean by " repar-
ation," ' he went on, hurrying over his
shameful confession, and forgetting, in his
own misery, to break his news gently to
the poor child before him. ' You are
thinking that there is no need of such a
thing between you and me. But there is,
my darling ; bitter need of it ! I have
done you an awful wrong, Hagar — the
ceremony we went through in London last
July was no marriage in reality — it was a
sham affair, got up for me by an obliging
He stopped, for such a cry came from
between her blanched lips as struck him
into silence. She lifted her hands, one on
either side of her head, and stood so, sway-
ing heavily, with her wide, stricken eyes
reading the self-abasement of his face. It
was as if she wanted to assure herself of
the truth of what she had heard, and that
done, she turned without a sound, as if to
fly from him.
' Hagar!' he cried, heart-broken at her
shrinking. ' Hagar !' And he put out a
quick hand to detain her.
But with a face of loathing, she sprang
away from his touch, sprang, in her eager-
ness to get beyond his reach, so far back-
wards, that her feet came down on the
oozy slope of the river bank, and, without
a cry, she slid noiselessly into the rushing
rapids at his feet.
The action was so instantaneous, that,
left there alone, he stood a moment as if
stricken into stone, rigid and helpless with
the sudden horror of it ; but the next in-
stant his senses and the use of his limbs
came back to him, and with a despairing
cry of ' Hagar ! Hagar ! My love ! my
love !' he dashed along the path towards
the brink of the cliff.
And on the other bank, unseen by him,
there was also a figure flying for dear life
in the same direction.
But the waters were racing downhill to
the sea, and the night was dark as Erebus.
HE PUSHED HER IN — I SAW IT DONE — I SAW
IT DONE, i'lL swear IT !
If he had given himself time to reason,
John Penhala would have known how utter-
ly futile was that straining, tearing rush
along the river bank.
At this point of the stream it was danger-
ous work for a man to attempt wading,
going into it steadily with a wading pole,
how then could a girl, slipping in unawares,
without foothold or warning, be expected
to stand against the rushing waters ?
But one does not reason at such
moments. It ^vas mere instinct that
prompted that mad, blind dash down the
stream through the darkness. Passing thus
suddenly out of the light of the lantern,
he could see absolutely nothing, and an
occasional snow-flake drifting into his eyes
through an opening overhead, did not
serve to make his eyesight clearer.
It was wonderful that he kept his footing
as long as he did, wonderful that he was
not tripped up in his first dozen steps, in-
stead of keeping his feet till he was out of
the plantation and on the smooth grass land,
where the snow showed white through the
gloom against the blackness of the river.
It was here, as he neared the first short
flight of steps leading down the face of
the clifl", that he lost his foot-hold, and fell
He threw out his hands as he went,
crashing, bounding, flying downwards, but
they caught at nothing ; and he knew he
was going head-long down to the sea.
Then came another crash, with a sound in
his ears like the blow of the blacksmith's
hammer on the anvil, and a flash like the
blacksmith's forge before his eyes, and then
The first thing he was sensible of, when
the physical agony of a return to con-
sciousness was over, was the roar of the
surf in his ears. Awfully near it was, but
the fact of its nearness conveyed no terror
to his mind ; his understanding was not yet
alert enough for that. The next thing he
knew was that sundry hard points were
penetrating the skin of his face, and causing
him considerable inconvenience. He lifted
a languid hand, and found he was ly-
ing face downwards among the trailing
branches of a bramble bush. With some-
thing of an efi*ort he rolled over on his
back, and stared straight up above him.
There was a moon somewhere ; she was
not visible, but over-head the heaped-up
hurrying clouds were white wdth her light ;
and here and there, where the edges of the
moving masses did not overlap each other,
an occasional flash of starlight struck
momentarily on his sight. Then the
bramble branches above him moved slight-
ly, and a little mass of dislodged snow fell
on his face.
His reason asserting itself little by little,
he began now to wonder how it had come
about that he was out there, asleep, on this
bitter night — began to ask of himself what
the circumstances were which had led to
this extraordinary state of things. His
brain did not respond immediately to this
demand upon it. For a few seconds he lay
there asking the question, but unable to
answer it. And then, in one blinding,
vivid, flash of memory, the whole string of
events leading up to his fall flashed com-
plete into his mind, in one instant of time
his brain shook off its puzzled bewilder-
ment, and he passed from a state of idle
enquiry to one of the most perfect, the
clearest, the most appalling recollection.
He saw the whole scene again, down to
the minutest detail : the girl's fi2:ure fac-
ing him, with the light of the lantern re-
flected in her pretty dark eyes, as they
gazed at him wide with horror, the flashing
colours in the diamonds on her uplifted
hand, the duller flashes from the rushing
waters at her feet, the dim mystery of the
background of crowding pine boles behind
her — not a feature of the picture was miss-
ing from his memory. Again he heard her
quick little cry of anguish as she realised
the full extent of his crime ao^ainst her,
again he saw the swift turn from him, his
quick step forward, her backward spring,
her noiseless slip down the bank, and the
sudden emptiness of the picture. Once
more he saw himself standing there, mazed
and helpless in that awful solitude, once
more saw himself tearing along the river
path in the darkness, once more felt him-
self trij) and fall, flying through space,
downwards to the sea, and felt the stun-
ning blow on his head, which had stopped
his descent some way down. He even
remembered hearing the ringing sound
his head made in contact with the edge of
the steps. That was what had knocked
And he had lain there how long ?
He had no means of knowing, but some
time must have passed since his fall ; the
snow-flakes were driving in his face as he
dashed along tlie river bank, now the night
The knowledge that, in any case, he had
lain there senseless long enough to shut
out the faintest possibility of rescue for
Hagar, came upon him with a new shock
She was dead — jDoor, pretty Hagar Pol-
whele was dead ! His mind, never entirely
free from self-condemnation since he had
allowed himself to be talked into the ex-
pedient of a sham marriage, was now one
vast expanse of agonised remorse. The
wrong done to the living girl seemed a
thousand times intensified, now that it had
become a wrong against the dead. If he
had but done her justice, the horror of her
death would have pressed less intolerably
He turned his face to the ground again.
unconscious of the acute discomfort of his
surroundings, and lay there, with his head
clasped in his hands, moaning in a mental
anguish which could not be endured in
For some time his moans were the only
sounds that broke the monotony of the
shrill swish of the cascades at his side,
and the hoarse roar of the surf a hundred
feet below him.
When his head had struck against the
step, he had bounded off into one of the
sheltered, fern-filled recesses which abutted
on the pathway, one of those well pro-
tected nooks which the wind blew over
but did not penetrate, and where last
summer s growth of ferns still stood, green
and waist-high, behind the tufts of tough,
feathery tamarisk that waved on the edge
of the ledge.
No snow had made its way into this
sheltered cavity, beyond one or two drop-
pings from the vegetation on the faee of
the cliff above, and it is possible that John
Penhala would have spent the night there,
alone with his misery, but for what hap-
Lying there, face downwards, almost
invisible in the diffuse light of the cloud-
veiled moon, because of the luxuriant
growth surrounding him, he presently
grew conscious of a new sound, breaking
intermittently through the thunders of
the breakers — the sound of a human
voice. Xow and again, in the pauses be-
tween the mighty moan of one retreating
wave, and the thunderous advance of the
next, he could hear the voice quite plainly.
And even when the deafening crash of the
billow against the rock overwhelmed it for
a time, it rose again the next moment, tri-
umphant over the hoarse roar of the
defeated torrent — vehement, powerful, and
full of menace.
John Penhala lifted his head and
The voice was cominsr nearer, orrowino^
more continuous. He could distinguish
now the rise and fall in the tones, as they
came hurtling through the pandemonium
of the rushing waters ; and now he caught
a word or two ; and, as he heard, he drew
himself instinctively closer, under the
overarching growth, and held his very
breath for terror. For he had heard his
own name mixed up with the torrent of
curses that were being shouted forth to
the nio^ht, and in an instant — althouo-h till
now his thoughts had never glanced in
the direction of possible peril for himself
— his instinct of self-preservation was on
the alert, his whole beino^ vibratino- with a
VOL. I. I
new-born apprehension, his every faculty
responding instantaneously to the call on
It was the voice of Morris Edyvean
that was flinging forth its curses on the
tempestuous solitude of the night, it was
the tread of Morris Edyvean — a furious,
vehement tread, in exact keeping with the
passionate incoherence of his ravings —
that was crushing its way upwards
through the brambles and bushes on the
other side of the dashing watercourse, it
was the form of Morris Edyvean that
passed between the watcher's strained
gaze and the whiteness of the cliff face
beyond, with its brawny arms tossing
heavenward, and its quivering fingers ex-
tended towards the hurrying clouds and
the calm unconcern of the distant stars.
' Long ago, John Penhala, I swore to
my Maker, with a binding oath, that if
harm came to Hagar through you, you
should answer for it to me — now you shall
answer for it to a mio^htier than me ! To
one whose grijD, once on its prey, doesn't
loosen till it's reaped its full penalty. The
law shall deal with you, you sly. soft-
tongued devil, and we'll see what service
your smooth tongue and your silken man-
ners will do you when it's a judge and
jury you've got to stand up to, instead of a
foolish, trusting slip of a girl. Curse
you ! . . . Much good your leering looks
and your soft way of speaking will do you
then, you ... I will see to that, lad. If
one man's swearing can hang another, as
surely as I'm a man born of woman, you
shall hang for this night's work. Hang by
the neck until you are dead, and may God
not have mercy on your soul ! Do you
think Hagar Polwhele's death shall go un-
punished? I've got you in my clutch at
116 PENH ALA.
last, and, by the eternal God, I'll not
loosen it till I've squeezed tlie last breath
of life out of your fair, leprous carcase, yoit
Sink of Iniquity, you Whited Sepulchre !'
And as he mounted higher and higher,,
and, reaching the brink of the cliff above,,
passed at once out of sight and hearings
the man below raised himself slowly and
cautiously from his recumbent j)osition,
stretching his stiffened limbs, ]Dushing his
fair hair back from his throbbing temples,
and looking about him, from side to side,
above and below, as if wondering in which
direction his best chance of safety lay — by
the path to the upland above, or by a
step over the edge to the foaming billows
Mrs. Polwhele's desire to keep Hagar
at home that evening had been prompted
entirely by considerations for the girl's
health. As for being left alone to attend
to her customers, that was a matter which
did not trouble her at all. In her younger
days, in a busy London tavern in the heart
of the city, she had often had twice as
many people at one time on her hands as
she was ever likely to have in her own
bar at the ' Miner's Rest.' This busy,
buxom, bright-eyed mother of Hagar's
was a thoroughly capable woman of busi-
ness ; she found no difficulty in keeping
the wants of her dozen or so of customers
— miners and fishermen, for the most part
— supplied as fast as they arose, finding
time every now and again, in the midst of
her duties, to throw a quick upward
glance at the clock over the mirror at the
back of the bar.
As the time drew on towards half-past
seven, these glances grew more frequent
and anxious ; so much so that the quick-
witted Cornish folk saw and understood
all about ' them trubbled gleeazings at
clock faace,' without a word on the subject
from their hostess.
One or two of the elder men, talking
among themselves in a far corner, had
almost decided to offer their services — ' if
so be as she'd like waun or two to taake a
look up and down the rooads for signs of
the missing wench,' when the door was
flung open violently from the outside, and
Morris Edyvean, white as death, panting
and wild-eyed, strode into the brightly-lit
The crash of the door, as it swung to
again behind him, brought all eyes that
way to where he stood ; and, as the glances
fell upon him, the cheerful chatter changed
at a breath to a dead silence of intense
expectancy, while those nearest him fell
back a space, as if his near neighbourhood
were a terror in itself.
Left thus isolated in their midst, he
threw his big shoulders back, and swept
the circle of horror-stricken faces at a
' Is't writ on ma very faace, thin?' he
cried, the Cornish coming thick and strong
in the presence of his every-day familiars.
And now that they heard his voice,
shrill and quivering with an unknown
horror, the terror of the breathless silence
seemed as nothing to the terror of hearing
' Ef a man sees murder done, does the
cruelty of et set et's maark on hes faace,
so et can be knawn without a word on hes
Nobody made a sound. One or two
formed the word ' Murder !' with their
whitened lips, but his whole appearance
and bearing were so awesome, his colour-
less face, the burning hate of his ever-
moving glance, the rock-like rigidity of
his attitude, drawn up to his full height,
with his clenched hands hanD-iiio* down-
wards, and his breath coming in quick,
audible puffs, were so terrible to look
upon, that his listeners lost their power of
speech, and could only gaze and wait, in
a fear too great for words, for what was to
' Ay, murder !' he went on, catching that
silent movement of their lips. ' Murder,
I tell ee — the basest, bloodiest murder
ever committed by the hand of man ! Yes,
I ses et — Morris Edyvean. If any of ee
ses I lie, lev un say et now.'
His glance flashed round the circle of
faces — set hard like stone masks — as he
flung forth his challenge. But there came
no answering word, and again he went
' He pushed her in — I seed un — I'll
swear to et ! He shall sweng ef my word
can hang un, that shall he ! He pushed
her in, I saay ! The w^aaters were between
us, rushin' and roarin' like a hunderd
devils lev loose, or he ^vud ha gone in be-
hind her. He pushed her in and run —
God, how he run ! If I'd w^aunce got
how^ld on him, I'd ha' throttled un, cum-
raades — ay, that wud I ! But hes time
wull come. My word wull hang un, and
I'll spaik it, aw that avuU I, befowr any
judge in the land! He pushed her in, I
tell ee ! And the ^vaaters swurled her
awaay, ovver the clefF, and dow^n the faals
to the murderous rocks and the roarin'
sea ; an' what w^uU they leave of her
''atween 'em, think ee? I tell ee, cum-
raades, he pushed her in, John Penhala
himself— he ded, he ded ! Hagar, Hagar !^
Higher and higher his voice rose with
each denunciation, until, reaching a climax
of frenzied hate, it dropped suddenly, at
the utterance of the girl's name, to a hoarse
guttural whisper, and, swinging round on
his heel, he lunged forward, writhing in
the convulsions of epilepsy.
One of the Penhala servants, driving
through the high-street a few minutes
afterwards, on his way to the railway-
station, to meet Paul Petrovsky, was
stopped as he passed the ' Miner's Rest,^
and heard the story that was flying through
the town. Edyvean's story, with an addi-
tion from Mrs. Polwhele, to the effect that
it was a letter from John Penhala that
had enticed Hagar out that evening. The
man went back at once as far as the stew-
ard's house, half-way up the hill, and
repeated what he had heard. And the
steward, Eli Tregea, being a man of sound
common-sense, called for his boots, and
with a horrible sinking at his heart,
tramped off to the house to interview Mr.
Going in quietly by the entrance that
led to the offices, he came upon Mr. John's
own man waiting inside the door, with a
worried look on his usually impassive
' You're the very man I wanted to see,
Crawford,' he said. ' Can you make
some excuse to get Mr. John away from
the dinner-table ? I must speak to him
at once !'
' He's not in, Mr. Tregea,' returned
Crawford. * There's the master waiting
dinner this half-hour past, and the cook
in the devil's own temper. I thought it
was him when I heard you at the
' Do you know where lie has gone ?'
' He told me he should be in to dress
at seven,' said Crawford, unconscious,
apparently, that this observation was not
an answer to the steward's question. ' ''I
shall be in a deuce of a hurry Crawford,"
he said to me, when he went out ; "I
can't get back before seven, and I don't
want to keep my father waiting dinner for
me the first night I'm home. Get every-
thing ready for me to slip into, there's a
good fellow, and then come down and wait
for me at the office-door." And here I've
been more than an hour, Mr. Tregea, lis-
tening to the cook's refined observations on
the virtue of jDunctuality, and what to be
at I'm blest if I know.'
Tregea stood thinking. He knew no
more what to be at than Crawford himself.
He did know that for a certainty Edy-
vean's ghastly story would be up here
presently, and he wanted to soften the
blow a little for Mr. Penhala if he possi-
bly could. But he was utterly at a loss
how to set about it. And even as he
stood there considering, he heard voices
in the courtyard outside, and instinctively
put up his hand for silence.
' If so be as we can awnly get the lad
out o' the way, and braake the noos a bit
gentle lek to the squire afowr she comms,
it 'ull be something. He's that proud o'"
that bo}^ it met go fur to braake his
haart ef she plumps her accoosation down
on ee all at wance.'
' It's old Peter Carlyon,' said Tregea.
' Show him into the office, Crawford, and
tell him the master will come to him in a
minute.' And, urged forward by the
necessity for immediate action, he strode
away to the front of the house, meaning
to send his name in by the butler.
126 PENH ALA.
But he found Penhala paciiio; up and
down the length of the inner hall, so he
waited for him, near the fire-place at the
lower end, where there was no chance of
their conversation being overheard through
the open glass doors leading into the
Eli Tregea had eaten Penhalas bread
for more than twenty years past, and
never once in all those years had it tasted
bitter in his mouth.
This was the thought that flashed
through his mind now, as he waited his
employer's approach. If he had loved
him less, he could better have performed
the duty he had in hand.
Perhaps this was why Penhala saw so
quickly that there was something terribly
wrong afoot. Tregea had not got his con-
ventional enquiry, ' Do you know^ what's
keeping Mr. John out so late to-night,
sir?' properly out, before Penhala was
down on him, with quickened steps and
' Xo ; but you've come to tell me !
AVhat is it, Tregea ? Any harm to the lad ?
Out with it ! Xo breaking it softly, man !'
Tregea answered promptly,
' Xo harm to him, that I've heard of,
sir, but it seems there's been an accident
in the river above the falls — somebody is
drowned, and people are trying to make out
that it wasn't an accident, and that Mr.
'Is a murderer?' said Penhala, catch-
ing him up as he paused.
Already his mind had leapt to certain
conclusions. He had guessed why John
was late, and knowing the lad had a
difficult task in hand — for in insisting
on the return of the ring he had reckoned
on the chance of its putting an end to the
128 PENH ALA.
foolish entanglement — lie had made allow-
ances for his unpunctuality. And now,
as Tregea faced him. w^ith troubled eyes
and faltering speech, and spoke of an
accident in the river, an accident in which
John was concerned, he grasped instantly
at something of the truth, and saw trouble
' Who says this thing of him, Tregea?
Who accuses him?'
' Morris Edyvean, sir — one of the over-
seers down to Cluth-hoe mine.'
' And — who is it that is drowned ?'
*• The daughter of Mrs. Polwhele.'
' The landlady of the '' Miner s Rest." '
' That poor little child ? Good God,
how terrible ! And only this morning —
Is it certain that she is drowned, Tregea?
Are you sure there is no mistake ?'
' I'm afraid not, sir,' said Tregea, sorrow-
fully. ' It seems she went in between the
bridge and the cliff; a bad enough place at
the best of times ; and you know w^hat the
stream is like just now.'
' A torrent, Tregea ; not a stream at alL
Poor child, poor child ! And Edyvean
says it was not an accident, and accuses
John. He saw the whole thing?'
' So I gathered — but I was in such haste
to get to you '
'Thank you, Tregea I It was like you.'
He lifted his face suddenly from the con-
templation of the glowing logs, and looked
Tregea straight in the eye.
' I want you to answer a question with-
out a word of equivocation ; without a
thought that it is my son you are speaking
of. You know what people are saying
about my sou and this girl ? Do you
think it was true ? Xow ! the whole truth,
VOL. I. K
' I'm afraid it was, sir.'
Tregea had never wished he had been
born dumb until that moment, when he
saw the look his words brought into
But Lance Penhala was not the man to
turn his glance aside because a thing was
distasteful to him. He put his own feelings
into the background, and went on unflinch-
ingly Avith his questions.
' Was she a respectable girl, Tregea ?
Don't make excuses for John; only just
tell the truth. Do you honestly believe
John acted like a thorough-paced villain
all through the piece ?'
More than ever Tregea prayed for dumb-
ness, but with those clear, steady eyes
upon him, prevarication was impossible.
And maybe, after all, it was better for the
lad's father to hear all there was to hear,
in the first place, from a friendly tongue.
PENH ALA. 131
' Sooner or later you'll hear it, now tlie
poor little thing is gone,' he said, sorrow-
fully. ' Mr. John put a cruel trick on her,
sir. He pretended to marry her, up in
London last July. The girl showed some
sort of paper to my missus, under an oath
of secrecy, and she says it wasn't a proper
' My God !' cried Penhala, his self-con-
trol vanquished utterly by his distress of
mind. ' My God ! Tregea, that I should
live to hear such a thing as that of my own
He turned aside, and, reaching a hand
up to a projection in the carved oak of the
mantelpiece, he laid his head against the
support of his arm, and muttered brokenly
his boy's name over and over again.
And Tregea, conscious that this was a
trouble past the reach of comfort, could
only stand quietly on guard, ready to pre-
132 PENH ALA.
vent any intrusion on his employer's grief.
' You see, sir,' he began again present-
ly, ' what I'm afraid of is that, if there is
an inquiry, and this business of the sham
marriage comes out, it will go so hard with
' It can't go harder than he deserves,'
muttered Penhala, with lips that quivered
still from the smart of this new blow. 'He's
my own son, Tregea ; and for ten lonely
years past he has been the only creature I've
had to love or spend a thought on ; but I
can't blind myself to the villainy of thi&
business. Whether he lifted his hand
against that girl or not, her blood is on his
soul, and he will have to suffer for it, one
way or another. Perhaps it would be the
most merciful thing they could do with
him, to hang him ! What is his life likely
to be with such a memory as that pressing
like a deadweight on his soul? God help
him, and me ! I think my heart is broken,
' Things mayn't be quite so bad as they
seem, sir,' said Tregea, trying to speak hope-
fully. But Lance Penhala shook his head.
Knowing what he knew of the object John
had in view^ when he made that last ap-
pointment with Hagar Polwhele, he knew
also that it was almost impossible for
things to seem worse than they really
But, thouo^h from the beo^innino^ he re-
cognised the utter hopelessness of Johii's
position, nobody but Tregea ever knew or
guessed at the full depth of his sufferings.
What he endured henceforth he kept re-
ligiously hidden from the eye of man. All
his pride and his affection had been bound
up in the one object — his boy, and now
pride and affection lay stifled in the mire
of a base, cowardly cruelty.
Sometimes it seemed to him that, if he
had known beyond all doubt that John
had pushed Hagar into the torrent, as
Edyvean asserted, he could have forgiven
even that unpremeditated crime, sooner
than the calm, pre-arranged cruelty of the
But after that first irrepressible outburst
of grief, he kept his opinions shut up in
his own mind.
Even on that first night of his downfall,
by the time Mrs. Polwhele and Edyvean
arrived at the house, escorted by a dozen
or so of the scared customers from the
' Miner s Rest,' to make their accusation
aofainst John, even so soon after the shock
as that, he had assumed the curious, rigid
self-possession which he maintained ever
afterwards, when dealing with John and
Of all the little crowd collected round
the open door in the shelter of the big
porch, only Tregea guessed ever so slightly
at the anguish that lay behind the cold-
ness of his white, stern face, the level still-
ness of his voice, the laboured quietness
of his manner. The poor mother's noisy
grief dropped to silent sobbings as she
listened to his measured words, and even
Edyvean's frothy, hysterical denunciations
died away to nothingness, before the quiet
dignity of Penhala's bearing. There was
almost a touch of shame in his manner as
he slunk to the rear of the crowd, and leant
against the side of the porch listening to
' What can I say to you in the face of
such a tale of cruelty as this 3- ou bring to
me ?' he said, with one hand on the weep-
ing woman's shoulder,' and his troubled
eyes on her poor, tear-blistered face. ' If
you have lost your only child, so have I ;
and I think mine is the worse case of the
two. At least you can think lovingly of
your child, and even that comfort is denied
to me — my son is lost to me, soul and
body! Even if the law pronounce him
guiltless of this crime of murder, he is
none the less dead to me. Henceforth
your daughter's destroyer is as a stranger
in his father's house, and his father's heart.
Don't think of me as your enemy in this
terrible calamity — John Penhala must take
the consequences of his own acts on his
own shoulders — let him clear himself of
this accusation if he can, he will have no
help from me. It is justice you want, and
justice you shall have. In any case I will
not throw the weight of my money and in-
fluence into the scale against you. The
case shall be tried on its merits, that I
' Then,' said Edyvean, lifting himself
from the support of the porch, and towering
above the rest from the rear of the crowd,
* then he wull sweng for et, that wiill he.
Hang by the neck till he be dead !'
A faint stiffening of the muscles round
his lips was Penhala's only answer to this,
and for an instant there was silence among
the group, as if they recognised the wanton
brutality of the interruption. And across
this silence, from beyond the heads of the
little crowd, there struck the noise of
advancing wheels, deadened partially by
the coating of snow on the drive, and a
boy's fresh voice broke through the gloomy
' Hollo ! what's up ? Is it carols ? How
ripping ! Here I am, Uncle Lance ! How
jolly it seems to be at home again !'
And Stanislaus Petrovsky himself, past
master in the art of j)lotting though he
was, could not have arranged the thing
better to suit his own purpose.
A DOG WITH A BAD NAME.
January was nearly over when they
brought poor little Hagar Polwhele home
again to Carn Ruth. The body had been
found in a narrow inlet twenty miles to
the north. Edyvean's prophecy had come
very near the truth — the sea and the rocks
between them had made cruel havoc of
the girl's prettiness, and for all actual
evidence to the contrary, it might as pro-
bably have been a complete stranger as
Hagar Polwhele. There was the pretty
dark hair, and the height, and there was
also the fact that no other young woman
was known to be missing anywhere on
that coast. This was really all the coroner
and the jury and witnesses had to go
upon in forming a decision as to the
identity of the body.
But there are certain conditions of pub-
lic opinion in which a very little evidence
will go a very long way, and the condition
of public opinion in regard to the Carn
Ruth murder was a case in point.
Since folks had heard of that sham mar-
riage in London, the popular indignation
against John Penhala had reached the
white heat stage ; and perhaps the jury
and the witnesses did not much care
whether the poor, battered remains they
were holding an inquest on, were really
those of Hagar Polwhele or not, so long as
Ihey provided them with an excuse for re-
turning a verdict of wilful murder against
that cruel young limb of the devil, John
Of course it was Edyvean's evidence
that put the rope round his neck. After
hearing what he had to say under oath, it
only became a matter of catching the crim-
inal and hano;ino^ him.
All these weeks, ever since Edyvean
had burst into Mrs. Polwhele's bar on
that snowy December night, and de-
nounced John Penhala as the murderer of
Hagar Polwhele, the Carn Ruth people
had talked of one thino-, and one thino;
onlv — John Penhala's unmiticrated bru-
And young Paul Petrovsky, running
hither and thither amono^ them durino; his
somewhat lonely holidays, picked up a
good deal of knowledge on the subject,
<ilthough the topic was never openly dis-
142 PENH ALA.
cussed in his presence. These Cornish
iishermen and miners were too well bred
to make a mistake of that kind.
But they would have been genuinely
shocked if they had known how much
actual information on the subject the lad
had gathered from the fragmentary odds
and ends he had overheard of their dis-
cussions ; and this in spite of their desire
to keep all such knowledge from him.
It was Tregea who first set the boy's
precocious wits to work. He took him
aside that first night of his home coming,
and warned him against mentioning John's
name in Mr. Penhala's presence ; but he
refused to tell why this was to be so, and,
his curiosity thus aroused, it followed
naturally that Paul set to work to find out
It was one afternoon about a fortnight
after the boy's arrival from Rugby, on his
return from a lounge round the town, that
he fastened himself in his own room and
unlocked his desk — a present from his
father — and took from a cleverly contrived
recess at the back of the pen-tray a letter
in his father's handwriting.
'The eve of my execution,' was the date
it bore, and it began with a doubt as to
whether it would ever reach the person it
was intended for.
But Paul passed over all that part — he
knew it ah^eady by heart — the admonition
to never slacken in his devotion to The
Cause, to nurse his Russian assiduously
for use in the future, so that when the
opportunity came to him, as come it
would, to strike a blow for the liberation
of his unhappy country, he might be fully
qualified for any service demanded of
All that part of the letter he knew word
144 PENH ALA.
for word. It was another passage he
wanted to look at now, a passage which
referred to the possibility of John Pen-
' If he should ever offend his father
so grievously as to bring about such a
disaster, the Penhala money would be-
yond all doubt come to you. And my
last command to you is, to bid you re-
member that the son of your father can
possess nothing independent of The Cause.
We men of the Kurtz family hold oar last
kopec in trust for the purposes of our
masters — you, in particular, Paul, will not
need to be reminded that everything you
possess — health, wealth, happiness, liberty,
life — must be held in trust only, at the
command of our leaders, to be devoted
directly to the advancement of our undying
desires, and, indirectly, to the avenging
of your father's death — the two purposes
are indissoluble— in furthering the one
you must of necessity forward the other.
Xow heed what I arn going to tell you.
John Penhala has, by his own action, for-
feited all right to his father's wealth —
never mind how, it is enough for you that
/ know this to he so. Very well ! If, at
his twenty-first birthday, John is still
in favour with his father, you are to post
the enclosed letter to your uncle with
your own hands, without taking a crea-
ture into your confidence on the matter.
If, on the other hand, your uncle's eyes
have already been opened to his son's
true character, and there is open dissen-
sion between them, you are to burn the
letter unopened. John once disgraced,
the future is entirely in your own hands,
see that you use your opportunities.'
"With the thin, closely-written sheets
spread out on the window-ledge, to catch
VOL. I. L
the waning light of the January afternoon,
and with his head supported in his hands,
Paul pored for a long time over his father's
explicit directions ; and when at last he
lifted his glance to look out at the lawns
below, and the stretch of throbbing waters
beyond, there was a weirdly old look on
his face, a look that would have made his
mother's heart ache had she been there to
see it. Was it that there was no longer
any childhood in the lad's soul ? had his
boyish instincts shrivelled up and withered
away, under the fierce heat of the furnace
through which he had passed while yet a
baby ? Was his heart like an ear of wheat
stunted by drouth, prematurely hardened
and yellowed, giving forth all the outward
tokens of maturity while there is still no
grain in the husk ?
Little need indeed to fear that he would
miss his opportunities from any undue soft-
€ning of the heart, any flaccid leanings to-
wards mercy. Even now, watching the
waters whereon John and he had spent
those happy two days in the summer, he
rebuked himself for remembering his
€ousin's pleasant kindness, telling himself
stoically that at such a moment the memory
amounted to an act of treason against The
Cause. A withered ear indeed, an empty
husk, hardened prematurely for want of
nourishment, what fruit shall you yield in
harvest time in return for the ground you
have cumbered ?
The Carn Ruth Tragedy had provided
the London papers with a splendid stop-
gap during the dull weeks intervening be-
tween Christmas time and the meeting of
Parliament. With that delicate sense of
justice so conspicuous in the English
journalist up to date, most of them had
from the first designated it ' The Carn
148 PENH ALA.
Ruth Murder!' setting forth the title in
heavy type day after day, and gathering
enough details, real or imaginary, to fill a
Between the lot of them, they kept
the public fully informed of all that
was going on in the obscure little Cornish
iishing and mining town, and long before
the coroner held his inquiry on those un-
recognisable remains at Carn Ruth, all the
rest of the world had finally and definitely
made up its mind on the subject of John
Penhala's guilt ; and many and loud were
the outcries against the stupidity of the
police, because of their inability to put
their hands on the missing murderer.
And nowhere were these outcries louder
and more frequent than among the lower
classes, ' the honest labouring man,' and
On the day following the Carn Ruth
enquiry there was a select coterie of these
sons of toil gathered together in the par-
lour of a small public-house at Barking.
This delightful suburb of London owns a
population composed almost exclusively of
the artizan class, and from that downwards,
with a stratum somewhere in its complex
entirety of the maritime element. For
Barking Creek is always more or less
crowded with smacks, and lighters, and
barges, and small coasting vessels ; and their
crews are always very much in evidence
in the streets, and shops, and bars of the
unlovely river-side settlement.
To-day one of these small coasters had
arrived from Cornwall, with a cargo of
granite from the Penrhyn quarries, and
two members of her crew, as soon as the
day's duties were over, made their way
in company to the parlour of the ' Merry
Minstrel,' to join the social circle already
gathered there. Rough-looking fellows
they were, both of them, only there was
this difference in their roughness, that
wdiereas one, the elder, looked as if he
were making the best of a roughness
natural to him, the other had the ajDpear-
ance and bearing of one who wilfully ex-
aggerates his inborn disadvantages. There
was an aggressive air of blackguardism
about him, which showed itself in his un-
washed face and hands, his touzled head^
his carelessly huddled-on clothes, and his
half sulky, half swaggering gait. There
was that about him to-night, as he slouched
into the flaring light of the ' Merry Min-
strel ' bar-parlour, which seemed to say to
everybody who was interested in the
' Here I am, a regular rough un ! As
rough as you make 'em, and no pretence.
Them as don't like me as I am, can leave
me alone, and there's an end of it.'
The men already gathered round the
table bore, as a rule, some signs of having
' smartened up a bit ' for the evening's
festivity, and, as they noted the undiluted
ruffianism of the new-comer's appearance^
there was a touch of resentment in the
glances they cast at him.
The elder of the two was evidently an
old acquaintance, and was greeted with
some show of eagerness.
' You're just the chap we re wanting,
Joe Hellyar !' said the gentleman who oc-
cupied the chair at the head of the table.
' Glad to see you again ! When did you
come up ?'
' On this marning's tide,' answered Joe,
shaking hands with the two or three
nearest him, and seating himself on the
end of a form as the others pushed up to
make room for him.
' Same cargo as usual, I suppose?' some
' Saame as usual/ returned Joe. ' We
begin unloading to-marrer.'
' Are you come straight from Cornwall T
inquired the chairman.
' Ay. straaight as crass winds would
allaow of,' returned Joe, speaking strictly
by the card. ' We've been better nor three
weeks beating up channel.'
' Then mebbe you don't know the latest
news about the murder that was done
down your parts ?'
' Es there any fresh news ?' asked Joe,
a new vivacity flashing into his quick
eyes. 'Hev the gell turned up again
• She's turned up in a sort of way, yes.
The coroner held an inquest on her body
PENH ALA. 153
yesterday, and the jury brought in a ver-
dict of wilful murder against the young
blackguard as pushed her in — Penhala.'
' Eh, my dears, but that'll be a terruble
day's wark for hes father,' said Joe, com-
passionately ; and immediately there arose
a chorus of enquiries.
' Do you know the people at all, Joe ?'
^ Is the place in your part of Cornwall?*
'What sort of a chap is this John Pen-
hala?' ' Just a slip of a girl, wasn't she,
For the moment Joe was master of the
situation. Everyone's eye was on him ; he
had, all in an instant, acquired a new and
vivid interest for them, because of this
possibility of personal acquaintance with
the actors in the Cornish tragedy. No-
body had a thought or a glance to spare
for the lonely man near the door, nobody
saw him reel back a^'ainst the wall as if
154 PENH ALA.
an invisible hand had dealt him a mighty
blow, they were all too absorbed in their
new interest in Hellyar. But he was too
honest to make a bid for notoriety at the
expense of truth.
' I caan't saay as I'm parsonally ac-
quainted with Maaster Penhala myself/
he said, regretfully. ' But maybe my
cumrade, Jahn Smeth, knows summat of
'em. Aw, Jahn Smeth, my dear,' he broke
off, as, turning to include his friend in the
conversation, he found him still standing
solitary at the end of the room, ' es theare
ne'er a plaace at tabble for ee ? Come ee
heere, lad, aw'll maake room for ee.'
But the unwashed man at the door
showed no inclination to accept his com-
rade's friendly offer. He drew a grimy
hand from his pocket and passed it across
his lips, as if he feared their tremor might
arouse curiosity, and pulled his shapeless
cap lower on his brow, and turned towards
' I wooan't trubble ee, thank ee, Joe/
he answered, sullenly, his Cornish every
whit as broad as the other's. ' Company's
too smurt for I, lad. I'll just drink my
pint in the bar outside, and get back to
' Aw, my dears !' said the amiable Joe,
looking from the closed door to the faces
round the table in great distress, ' to thenk
of that now — and the lad's first trip out
of hes own country too. He's a clain off
hand on a boat, aw, that un es ; but un's
got no manners to spaik of — how shud
un ? He's never been now^heer's but in
the mines and among the pilchard boats.
Us travellers must maake allowance for hes
want of manners, cumraades.'
' Don't bother yourself, mate,' said the
chairman, consolingly. ' We don't expect
politeness from uncultivated savages. The
boy ull get learnt better by-and-by. What
are the folks down in your ]3arts saying
about this fine gentleman of a murderer
at Carn Ruth?'
John Smith out in the bar called for his
drink, sixpennyworth of brandy, and drank
it at a gulp, and, throwing a shilling on
the counter, called for another.
The woman behind the bar looked
rather curiously at her customer as she
supplied him wdth the second dose.
' Have a biscuit with it,' she said, pleas-
antly. 'You look a bit fainty like — the
spirit will do you more good if you take
a mouthful of something wdth it.'
He muttered a curt ' Thank you,' under
his breath ; but she noticed that he did
not follow her advice, though she pushed
the biscuit-jar invitingly towards him.
The good-natured soul was so accus-
tomecl to slovenliness and unwaslied faces
among her customers that John Smith's
appearance did not horrify her to any-
great extent ; certainly not enough to pre-
vent her seeing that he was in ' a bit of
trouble.' He looked pitifully desolate and
heart-broken, she thought, and there was
a mazed, lost look about him that went
straio:ht to her heart and set it achino:.
And perhaps it might have been good
for John Smith had he been conscious of
that one touch of human sympathy that
night. As he waited there, fingering his
glass, a newspaper-boy passed down the
street; and, as he caught the shrill cry^
the Cornishman shot out at the door and
bought a paper. He did not return at
once, standing outside in the flaring light
cf the windows to read something which
seemed to have a very great interest for
It was the account of the coroner s in-
quest at Cam Ruth that he was reading,
and when he came to Morris Edyvean's
evidence his breath quickened and his grip
on the paper tightened. Lies all of it —
cruel, heartless, murderous lies ! But, lies
or the truth, that evidence of Edyvean's
would, in the absence of rebutting testi-
mony, hang the man it was directed against
as surely as the most unsullied truth from
a crowd of Avitnesses.
The reader's hand shook as he stuffed
the paper into his pocket. The other
trembling hand was already at his throat,
as if he would fain rid himself of a sensa-
tion of strangulation. Then he suddenly
remembered the untasted brandy in the
bar, and turned back for it. The man
next to him was folding up a newspaper,
and beating the packet flat with his closed
fist on the metal-topped counter in front
of him. A clirtv drunken sot he was, with
* loafer ' writ large over his filthy person
and drink-soddened face.
• T wish it was 'ini I'd got here instead
of this 'ere paper,' he was observing to a
V kindred spirit, when John Smith first lent
an ear to his conversation. ' I'd spoil 'is
beauty for 'im. I'd pound 'im fiat as I'm
a-pounding this paper. But now, you
mark my words, my boy — because 'e's the
son of a gentleman, 'e'll get off. If it was
a poor, down-trodden, hard-workin' la-
bourin' man like you or me what 'ad done
it, we should swing for it, and everybody
'ud say, " Sarve 'im light !" But it 'ull
be quite a different thing with this elegant
young slip of the haristocracy. The cussed
youno' devil ! a-o:ettin round that poor o^ell
with 'is soft voice an' 'is coaxin' ways, and
then rounding on 'er like that as soon as
she got a bit troublesome. Hanging's too
good for 'im, tlie heartless young black-
guard. I hope with all my 'eart and soul
as they'll catch him, with all my 'eart and
soul I do !'
' Oh, they'll catch 'im,' returned his
friend, ' and it's my opinion they'll hang
him too, haristocrat or not. You see the
pertickerlers of the case are so dead agin
'im all through. They'll hang 'im right
enough, and a good job, too. Such war-
min as 'im ought to be cleared off the face
of the earth.'
John Smith did not drink his second
dose of brandy, he left it untouched on the
counter — forgot all about it, apparently,
in a sudden violent desire to get out into
There had been a slight fall of snow
during the afternoon, and the pavement
was coated with inches of half-melted, foul
slush, into which the feet sank at every
PENH ALA. 161
step, and the cold of whicb penetrated
the thickest shoe leather.
But John Smith, ploughing his way-
through the yielding slime, knew nothing
of the discomfort of his surroundings. The
news of the Carn Ruth verdict had dropped
upon him like a thunder-bolt. In the
moments when his grief and self-reproach
for Hagar's death had been keenest, he had
never contemplated such apossibility as this.
His flight had been the result of a scare,
and, that once over, he had never expected
to be accused of having wilfullv caused
the death of his poor little sweetheart.
But for the nervous collapse which had
seized on him after the tragedy, he would
never have allowed Morris Edyvean's hys-
terical denunciations to scare him into the
folly of flight. But fear had gripped him,
and he had acted upon it, and the world
had accepted his disappearance as proof of
VOL. I. M
162 PENH ALA.
his guilt, and was clamouring for his life
in return for that poor child's. His fel-
low-creatures could think this thing of him
— that he could crown his foul villainies
towards the girl he had wronged so bitterly
by lifting his hand against her !
Of what account to him were such things
as half-frozen pavements and biting winds?
Just then there was room in his mind for
one desire only — to find a place where he
could rest for a few minutes, without feel-
ing that the people around him were men-
tally condemning him to death ; to find
some cranny or corner where he could
listen to the sound of the human voice,
without hearing himself branded as a
murderer ; to shake ofi*, if but for a few
seconds, this ghastly sensation of the
world's undying enmity towards him, of
his eternal isolation in the midst of his
kind, this burdensome consciousness of his
own repulsiveness in the sight of his
fellow-men, this terrible knowleclo;e that
he was indeed an Ishmaelite, in so far that
every man's hand was against him, and
that he w^as an outcast and a wanderer
from the land of his fathers, homeless,
hopeless, and desolate exceedingly.
Plodding along, with his hands deep in
his pockets, and his eyes seldom lifted from
the space of pavement immediately ahead
of his feet, he traipsed the streets hour
after hour — spent with fatigue, yet know-
ing nothing of it ; exhausted from want of
food, but unconscious of the pangs of
hunger; chilled to the marrow by ex-
posure to the biting north-east wind, yet
unaware of his own intense j^^iysical
wretchedness — enwrapped, soul and body,
in a muddled maze of misery, which shut
out all consciousness of his physical self, all
thought of such trifles as comfort or safety.
Safety ! What indeed did that count
with him in this apathy of suffering?
Once or twice, when the thought of his
possible arrest did glance across his trouble-
dimmed mind, it came to him with a thrill
that was more like relief than terror. For
then at least this hunted feeling would no
longer be with him day and night; he
would no longer be secretly consumed,
sleeping and waking, b}" the knowledge
that the man standing next him in a public
bar, the people who passed by him on the
pavement, the whole population of this
great city were, one and all, eager to hunt
him down, would turn upon him as hounds
upon their quarry, if they once suspected
his true individuality.
Safety ! If this continued concealment,
this constant anticipation of discovery was
safety, danger itself would be welcome by
way of contrast.
Perhaps it was this very inclifFerence to
danger which saved him from suspicion.
Certain it is that, in those first terrible
days — while the knowledge was still new
to him, that, in the sight of his fellow-
men, he bore the brand of murder on him
— in those early days of the quest suspicion
never came near him ; he passed unscathed
through the hue and cry of search, into the
comparative security of a disheartened
Another murder was occupying the
public mind, interest in his capture slack-
ened, and the police centred their atten-
tion on the chase after the newer criminal,
hoping by a brilliant success in this affair
to obliterate the memory of their past
A GLIMMER OF DAWN.
So there came a time when John Smith,
with an increased ruffianliness in his ap-
pearance and manners, was able to mix
with his fellows again, without experienc-
incr that horrible feelino^ that their hands
were longing to be at his throat. And
then a new terror faced him — death by
The night he tramped away from
Barking, and severed the last connecting
link between himself and Cornish asso-
PENHALA. 16 7
ciatioiis, was already some weeks behind
him in the past, when this new peril
threatened him. The money he had on
him had provided him with food and
lodging of a sort — the sort which, for a
hunted man, was safer than any other —
And now the first overpowering horror
of his own position was growing dulled
by time and familiarity, and the love of
life — even such a life as he was living
now, the Ufe of a rat in a hole — had re-
turned to him ; as it was bound to do.
And to Hve one must eat, and to eat one
must have food, and to have food one
must pay for it, and to pay one must have
money, and at last there came a day when
he changed his last shilling !
All his life long he remembered the
morning afterwards, when he woke up
with his money clasped as usual in his
hand under his pillow, and, drawing it
forth, found two penny pieces in his
He lay a long time that morning won-
dering what he should do.
The week's rent of the squalid, grimy
den he was occupying was due to-day, and
credit was out of the question. He shiv-
ered as he imagined himself putting such
a request to the slatternly grimy-faced
shrew downstairs. At midday the rent
was due, and at midday she would expect
it. But for this consideration he would
probably have lain in bed the day through.
Hunger is less keen perhaps in bed than
elsewhere, and he was hungry already,
having put himself on short commons
these last three days in order to make his
money last as long as possible. The
thought of facing the attack of that foul-
tongued virago downstairs, however, was
more alarming than the thought of faint-
ing from hunger on the pavement. He
rolled off the bed a little after eleven
o'clock, put on his mud-encrusted boots,
and stealing cautiously downstairs reached
the street in safety.
He had been lodging in one of the side
streets off the City Road. Wandering on
in a purposeless fashion, he turned west-
ward when he reached the big busy thor-
oughfare, and slouched straight along till
he came to the ' vVngel ' at Islington.
He waited some little time here, among
the bustle at the corner, watching the
people get in and out of the omnibusses,
Avondering dully whether there was any-
one among them whose worldly posses-
sions Avere limited to the sum of two-
pence, and whether any of them were quite
so hungry as he was. But the constable
who reorulated the omnibus traffic turned
170 PENH ALA.
sharply on him presently, and ordered
him about his business — for John Smith's
appearance at this time was anything but
a letter of recommendation in itself, and
the policeman probably credited him with
designs on the pockets of the passing
He took the command to move on meek-
ly enough — hunger has a curiously taming
influence on the human species — one of
the signs of acute differentiation between
humanity and the brutes — and held on his-
way down the hill, past the big railway
stations to the Euston Road.
His hunger was approaching famine by
this time, and yet he held back from spend-
ing his two-pence. It formed the last
frail barrier between him and absolute
want ; that once gone, what lay beyond ?
So he held on desperately, enduring the
pangs of starvation as best he might, and
findinor some curious touch of compen-
sation in jingling his cojjpers against one
another in his pocket, and running over in
his mind all the different things to eat
which that two-pence would buy.
When he came to the Regent's Park
gates he dawdled about, watching his op-
portunity to slip past the park keeper into
the enclosure. His knees were beginning
to shake under him, and though it was
bitterly cold — cold with that cruel keen-
ness peculiar to the London streets at the
beginning of March — he had a strong
desire to get into the park, and rest him-
self on one of the more sheltered seats.
By dint of perseverance and patience he
accomplished his purpose, and got into
the park, where he spent all the early
hours of the cold, grey, unlovely after-
noon, huddled up at the end of a seat,
with his chin resting on his breast, and
his chilled hands pressed between his
shakinoj knees, in a vain attempt to keep
some touch of warmth in them.
It was a conclusive sign of the utter
hopelessness of his mental condition, that
he was incapable of forming the slightest-
plan for the future ; he was drifting on-
wards towards death by starvation, be-
cause he was too heart-broken to give
thought to any matter beyond the fact and
manner of Hagar Polwhele's death, and his
own position as the cause, if not the actual
perpetrator, of the tragedy. His mind was
never entirely free from the thought that,
though he had had no active hand in her
death, he was, before God and man, re-
sponsible for it; and with this ever present
consciousness of guilt upon him, he had
no courage for anything. He was a rud-
derless vessel, without aim or purpose,
adrift on the waters of life.
Sitting there in the bitter cold of the
March wind, which found its way to him
through the clumps of laurels behind him,
he did what he had not dared to do
durino: these two months of desolate desfra-
dation — he looked backward, and drank
his fill of the waters of Marah.
He grew a touch light-headed by-and-by,
and when a little lad, with dark curly hair
and big brown eyes, after observing him
shyly from the other end of the seat, edged
up to him, and stooping, looked up into
his face, he thought for a brief instant
that it was Hagar, and brushed his half-
numbed hand across his forehead in pitiful
' You, at least, know that 1 didn't do it,'
he muttered, huskily. ' Cruel though I
was to you, 1 would have died rather than
lay a rough finger on you, my pretty
174 PENH ALA.
The little child opened his velvety eyes
in a sorrowful wonder. The beggar-man's
talk was Greek to him, but, with the un-
erring instinct of childhood, he recognised
the signs of suiFering in the pinched face
before him, and a divine pity flooded his
pure little soul.
* Have you been naughty ?' he asked, in
his sweet, clear treble. ' Is some one
angry wif you ? My g'anma says God
is angry wif us when we are naughty. Is
God angry wif you T
John Smith said nothing, only gazed
at the bonny creature in silence.
' Ven you must be sorry,' continued the
small missionary, ' and God will forgive
you ; g'anma says so. Are you sorry ?
I fink you are. Will you say you're
' God ! yes, I'm sorry ! if that will do
any good,' said John Smith, speaking with
such intensity that the words sounded
more like an outbreak of ferocious anger
than a confession of repentance.
The child just for an instant looked
scared at the vehemence of the sudden
outburst. His experience of penitence
Tvas probably confined to a less passionate
emotion. But his fright was over in a
breath, and he was all love and pity again.
• I knew you were sorry,' he said, and
he laid a warm little dumpling of a hand
in a pretty knitted glove on John Smith's
grimy, slender, flexible fingers. ' Here's
a new penny for you,' he went on ; 'g'anma
gave it to me to buy a cake wdf ; but I
ain't a bit hungry, and I fink you are.
God will forgive you if you're sorry.'
• Master Claud !' broke in a woman's
shrill voice from behind the shrubs, ' where
are you? You naughty boy ! How dare
you hide away ?'
Master Claud slipped off the seat and
ran a few steps, stopping, before he finally
disappeared round the bushes, to nod his
lovely little head at the bent figure on the
seat and repeat,
' Mind you be sorry. God will forgive
you if you're sorry.'
John Smith sat looking at the bright
coin in his hand. Sorry ? AYas not his
whole life a blank expanse of hopeless
sorrow and remorse? Sorry? The coin
lost some of its brightness as he asked
the useless question of himself, and he did
not know whence came the sudden dim-
mino; of his sio;ht, until bij? tears came
splashing down on Master Claud's new
penny. Ay, he w^as sorry enough ; God
help him !
It was dark before he left the park.
His craving for nourishment was so terri-
ble by this time that he had made up his
mind to spend his money. Close to the
park entrance there was a small public-
house, up a very narrow passage ; he knew
the situation quite well. The place was
used principally by servants from the big
houses in the neighbourhood. This was
where he would go for his last meal. After-
wards — perhaps he would give himself into
the charge of the first policeman he met —
in prison they would at least feed him.
When he had had his bread and cheese
and glass of beer, he stood watching a
group of men in the next compartment,
gathered round another who was perform-
ing sleight-of-hand tricks with a pack of
The food he had eaten had not half-
satisfied his ravenous hunger, but the
contrast between his past and present con-
dition was strons; enouo^h to make him
look back with actual terror to the suffer-
VOL. I. N
ings of the last few hours. Anything, he
told himself, would be better than a repe-
tition of this afternoon's experience; sooner
than go through such agony again, he
would hand himself over to the care of
the police, or put an end to his troubles
for good, by whatever means came first
within his reach.
Having come to this decision, a curious
«pell of recklessness fell upon him.
' Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow
ye die,' he quoted to himself, as he watched
the performer in the next division of the bar.
He was a boastful sort of fellow, and
after each trick he had a way of say-
ing, ' I'll give half-a-crown to anybody
here who can tell me how it's done.'
John Smith, watching his movements,
presently saw him do a trick which he
knew perfectly well, and, without stopping
to think what he was doing, he said as much.
The conjurer — an amateur, evidently —
dropped his jaw, and tried to get out of
his bargain, but the others laughingly
insisted that the unwashed gentleman
should have a try; and John Smith was
invited to come round to the other com-
partment and show what he could do.
And John Smith went, and took the
cards into his hands and began to shuffle
And the men gathered round him, Avatch-
ing the smooth, easy grace of his move-
ments, wondered at it, even more than
at the skill of the tricks he performed for
As he stood in the midst of the sleek,
well-fed gentlemen's servants, with his
head well thrown back, and a smile on his
white, pinched face, his long chestnut hair
falling in wavy masses on either side of
his head, and his slender, subtle fingers
working whatever wonder they willed
among the inanimate cards, the poor, half-
starved, forsaken-looking wretch was trans-
formed under their very eyes, until it
seemed to them that the mere touch of the
cards had inspired him.
They could not guess — how should they
— that hunger and terror and shame had
ceased to exist for him, that he was back
in the past, in a brilliantly-lit room, the
centre of a delighted circle of well-dressed
people, living over again the pleasant ex-
citement of a successful first appearance
as an amateur magician, in his father's
They were a discriminating -audience,
for they had seen the best things of this
kind in their masters' houses, and John
Smith, discovering this, rose to the occa-
sion, and excelled himself.
And when the exhibition was over, he
found himself possessed of four shillings
and threepence, and the pack of cards — a
present from their defeated owner.
And a man, who had watched the per-
formance from the less select division of
the bar, joined him as he left the house,
and dropped into conversation with him.
' I can see you're only half-clothed, and
you look as if you wasn't more'n half-fed
neither,' he said, after a few preliminary
remarks. * Strikes me you must be a
durned soft fool to get into such a state as
that, while you've got the making of a
fortune in them nimble fingers o' yourn.
What's yer name, mate ?'
' John Smith.'
' S'help me now, if that ain't a coinci-
dence ! I'm John Smith too ! Shouldn't
wonder if we was related somehow. Do
you want to pick up another bob or two
with the cards before bed-time ? Be-
cause, if you do, I can show you a likely
JOHN SMITH WASHES HIS FACE.
Mrs. Boxfokd was delighted with her new
lodger, and exceedingly glad of the long
let of six weeks, reaching from the third
week in July until the end of August.
Mrs. Boxford's pretty cottage stood a
mile outside Chichester, in one of the
lovely, sheltered lanes Avhich abound in
that part of Sussex; and at that particular
period of the year Mrs. Boxford's spare
rooms were usually let to people who were
down for Goodwood races. But she had
been delighted to accept Miss Fentimore
as a lodger ; first and foremost, because a
six weeks' let is better than a fortnight's
any day ; and secondly, because she took
a fancy at first sight to Mary Fentimore's
pleasant manner, her sweet smile, and
It would be something of a relief, Mrs.
Boxford confided to her husband — Lord
Haphazard's head-keeper — to have a pleas-
ant, sweet-faced young woman about the
house, instead of the loud-voiced, card-
playing young men, who generally occu-
pied her best parlour and two spare rooms
during the race-week.
Miss Fentimore had been perfectly
frank with the good motherly woman^
when she came over from Portsmouth
early in June to take the rooms.
' She was a member of Mr. Wilfred Bur-
lington's Opera Company,' she said. ' Mr.
Burlington had decided to give his com^
pany a six weeks' vacation during the
height of the summer — from the middle of
July to the end of August — and she want-
ed to find quiet country lodgings for that
time. She had been a little over-worked
lately, singing sometimes four times a week,
and she was feeling the need of a long
spell of perfect rest and quietness, away
from all the bustle and distractions of
' And you'll get it here, miss,' Mrs. Box-
ford had assured her. 'Maybe, just dur-
ing the race-week, you'll have to keep a
bit close to the house of an evening ; for
there's a queer lot of characters about the
place just then. But once that's over, you
can stroll about the woods and meadows
and plantations and lanes from daylight
till bed-time, and never need to so much
as put a pair of gloves on for the company
' That is exactly what I want,' said
Mary, openly delighted with the prospect,
and the arrangement was concluded there
Mrs. B oxford was quick enough to see
that this operatic artiste was likely to be a
model lodger — quiet and regular in her
habits, and keeping no company to speak
of, and congratulated herself on ' a good
And Miss Fentimore more than fulfilled
her landlady's anticipations; she revelled
in the quiet and retirement of the country
life, and began to ask herself, before she
had been a week in her new quarters,
whether she had not after all made a mis-
take in her choice of a profession.
Her father had been a bookseller in the
city of York, a man very highly thought
of and respected by all those of his fellow-
citizens whose good opinions were worth
having ; but keenness in business matters
did not rank among his claims on the good
opinion of his neighbours. And so it fol-
lowed that at his death, two years ago, his
affairs were found to be in anything but a
flourishing condition ; and Mary discovered
that, when everything was realised, and
the estate cleared from debt, there would
be an income of something less than fifty
pounds a year left as her portion.
Faced thus by the necessity of, in part
at least, earning her own living, she had
decided to utilise her voice, and so make
capital out of the money spent on its
training. She had already something of a
local reputation, having made several ap-
pearances in the choral concerts of her
native city, and she found very little diffi-
culty in obtaining an engagement in one
of the travelling operatic companies.
But she had not taken very kindly to
the life. Her love for her art Avas pure
and enthusiastic, but she found very little
artistic enthusiasm among the members
of Mr. Burlington's company. Singing,
as an art, they thought very little of, but
they thought a ^ood deal of it as a means of
gaining applause, heaps of it, and especially
applause that should be a little noisier or
a little more prolonged than that bestowed
on their companions.
She never forgot the first time that
Trovatore was performed after she had be-
come a member of the company.
She was not singing herself, but she was
in the Green-Room, waiting to ascertain
the hour of the next day's rehearsal, when
the two ladies, Leonore and Azucena, passed
through on the way to their dressing-rooms,
PENH ALA. 191
after taking a call before the curtain. The
contralto, all smiles and pleasure, passed
on with a splendid bouquet to her nose,
the soprano flung her bouquet on the
ground with an expression of petulant
contempt, stamped it flat under her high-
heeled shoe, kicked it violently against
the opposite wall, and went ofi*, leaving
the mangled floAvers behind her, filling
the whole room with the sweetness of
their dying breath.
Mary Fentimore held her breath and
wondered ; and two men on the other
side of the room looked at one another
' What was Avrong with the Morelli's
flowers to-night,' asked one. ' Weren't
they as good as Miss Betterton's ?'
' It wasn't that,' came the answer. ' I
don't believe there was a pin to choose
betw^een the two bouquets to-night. They
came in tlie wrong place — that's all. She
can't endure that Miss Betterton should
have the first bouquet.'
Mary listened and wondered still more ;
such jealousy as this was something she
could not understand.
It was the first sample she had seen of
Madame Morelli's furious jealousy, but she
was to see many another, and those others
were to concern her more nearly ; for the
Italian prima-donna was always at logger-
heads with the second soprano in the com-
pany, and this was the position which Miss
Fentimore had the misfortune to fill. Things
had grown so uncomfortable lately that once
Mary had gone so far as to send in her re-
signation; but Mr. Burlington had prevail-
ed upon her to withdraw it; for by this time
his first and second sopranos were running
one another close for the position of popu-
lar favourite, and he half-hinted to Mary
that, sooner than lose her, he would dis-
pense altogether with the services of
And now that she was away from it
all — the close, hot air of the side-wings,
the ghastly lath and canvas parodies of
nature, the unhealthy excitement of facing
the audience, and, above all, the personal
attacks of her professional rival — now that
she was here, amongst the sights and
sounds and scents of the country, with
God's own sweetness all about her, now
that she found herself face to face Avith
nature, unspoiled and unsullied by the
influence of man, she liked the thouo^ht of
a return to that other life less than ever,
and longed, as she had never longed before,
to shake herself free from it.
She had already been a week in her
country quarters before the race-week
began, and brought with it that gathering
VOL. I. o
together of the dregs of society, which
follows at the tail of a race-meeting as
inevitably as dusk follows after daylight.
A curious conglomeration of human
vice and criminality it was, that packed
itself into the sly chinks and crannies of
the lovely old country town of Chichester,
during those last few days of July.
There was one troupe of five ' niggers '
who had started from their London quar-
ters in the best of spirits. Perhaps,
though, it would be safer to say that four
were in such boisterous spirits, that the
depression of the fifth became a negative
quantity in reckoning up the whole. But
then, as they all agreed among themselves,
there was never any counting on the
temper of ' John Smith number two,'
from one minute to another. And this
time they admitted that, for once, John
Smith — better known amons: his intimates
PENH ALA. 195
as ' The Markiss ' — had some reason for
being down on his luck, for only the night
before they left London his especial pal —
' John Smith number one ' — had gone to
kingdom come. And those two John
Smiths had been like a pair of Siamese
twins — barring the inconvenient circum-
stance of not being able to turn over in
bed without one another's permission — for
the last three years or more, ever since
John Smith number one had brought John
Smith number two, alias the Markiss, into
the community of which these gentlemen
Avere shining lights, and gone security for
his good faith in the future.
It was natural that the cove should feel
a bit cut up at the loss of his pal, they
agreed among themselves ; but when they
found out, during their first day on the
course, that this natural regret was likely
to seriously interfere with the takings of
196 PENH ALA.
the firm, they grew less tolerant of their
partner s low spirits, and told him he was
not acting fairly by them, in allowing his
private troubles to interfere with his brisk-
ness in business.
And then there happened what might
have happened any time during these last
three years, but for the peaceable inter-
vention of the man who had died over-
When the other members of the firm
began to grumble at the day's takings, and
hinted that the falling off* was due to the
dulness of the man who did the conjur-
ing business, the Markiss ' cut up rough,'
said right out that he had had enough of
the nigger business, and announced his
intention of working on his own account
for the future.
There was a big row then, for, in addition
to his exhibition of magic, the Markiss sang
tenor in the glees, and his defection was
likely to cause a serious difference to them.
For a minute or two it seemed doubtful
whether he would not have immediate
cause to regret his declaration of inde-
pendence ; but while two members of the
troupe asserted their intention of ' doing
for' the defecting one there and then,
the other two insisted upon his right to
follow his own inclination.
The whole five of them were too much
of a muchness in point of weight and
skill, to give any two of them a chance
against the other three, if it came to a
scrimmage ; and so, the Markiss giving the
casting vote in his own favour, pacific
counsels prevailed in the end, and the
threats of bodily violence simmered down
to personal remarks of the usual offensive
' He'd been glad enough to join 'em three
years ago, when lie was a babby in armSy
and didn't know his way about.'
' Yes ! cors why ? Didn't they know ?
Cors it 'ud been convenient to him at the
time to 'ide his face behind the burnt cork
— any fool might know that. Chaps with
white 'ands and that almighty finnicking
way of talking, didn't join nigger minstrels
' Ah, there was something agin' him^
sure enough ? And, by God ! if the
speaker could find it out, wouldn't he just
blow the gaff on him, that was all ! He'd
hid himself among 'em as long as it served
his purpose, and now they could go to
blazes for all he cared. Perhaps, though,
he wasn't so safe out of the wood even
now. Maybe that was why he'd grown a
beard this last six months, and maybe
after all he'd find a beard wasn't such a
safe disguise as the burnt cork had been.
More likely than not he'd live to wish him-
self among his coloured friends agin.'
But the Markiss took no notice of the
verbal bricks being flung at him ; he made
up his small bundle, washed his face, and
walked out of the attic-room, down the
ricketty stair to the street, a free man.
He found the court where their lodo^ino^s
were situated quite deserted when he
reached the pavement, and even in the
wider high-street, teeming with humanity
a short time ago, there were no signs of
life at this hour. Up and down the high-
Avay, as far as he could see, there was not
even a twinkling light in a window, to
speak to him of human companionship, the
whole city lay sleeping under the spangled
purple of the solemn sky.
Standing there, with that curiously ac-
centuated feeling of loneliness upon him,
which only comes to one shut off from his
kind in the heart of a thronged city, with
the stars gazing down at him from above
the irregular sky-line of the houses across
the way, and all around him the scented
silence of the summer night, an emotion
nearly akin to elation stole upon him,
followed by a touch of wondering surprise
at his own lightness of heart, surprise
that he had not yet forgotten how io feel
Surely the heart of man must possess a
strength of endurance, far beyond the
power of words to convey, to have gone
through what he had gone through, and
yet retain the faculty of feeling glad. For
though his gladness was sobered, even
now, by the haunting memory of much
that lay behind him in the past, it was
genuine gladness, nevertheless.
And he did well to be glad. He had at
last broken away from the ghastly sur-
PEN HAL A. 201
roundings of those first years of penance.
He had promised John Smith he would,
and he had done it. He wondered a little
whether stout-hearted old John knew how
quickly the promise to him had been
' Promise me that you'll get away from
these chaps here the very first chance you
get,' he had said, when the doctor had left
them alone, after telling them the end was
near ; ' and that you'll make your way up
to Lincolnshire, and give this bundle of
papers into my missis's keeping. It'll be
a f^-ood excuse for breaking with these
London chaps. And don't come back
among 'em again, my boy — give me your
word you won't.'
And the Markiss had given his word.
And here he was, already on the way to
fulfil it ; only he could not start off direct
for Lincolnshire, for the reason that he
had not a penny in his pockets. Because
he had been accused of spoiling the day's-
. takings, he had not chosen to ask for his
share of them ; and the Markiss never had
a penny put by. All those three years he
had spent in the London slums, he had
got rid of his money as fast as he earned
it ; his free-handed recklessness having
helped to gain for him the title he had
borne among his blackguardly companions.
He would have to stay out the race-
meeting in Chichester, and make a few
shillings to start him on his journey to his
old friend's wife. To-night he would have
to lie in the open — for by this time every-
body was in bed. Well, there was not much
hardship in that on such a night as this.
HeAvouldgo a mile or so outside the town,,
and creep under a hayrick, or find his way
into the heart of a plantation — a plantation
of pines, perhaps, with a tangled under-
growth of brambles and bracken, like one
he remembered in Cornwall, near the cliffs
overhano^ino^ the Atlantic breakers.
He would enjoy lying in such a plan-
tation as that to-night ; he would lie, with
his little bundle for a pillow, and watch
the stars peeping through at him, as often
as the faint breeze of the summer night
brushed the feathery boughs of the pines
aside, and gave him a brief, fleeting glimpse
of the silent glory beyond. There was a
faint touch of something at his heart to-
night that was almost like a promise of
returning peace — peace for him, who had
parted with the dove-eyed, soft-footed mes-
senger of comfort many a weary, vice-
stained month ago.
And, with this strange new sensation of
rest upon him, he went his quiet way
along the fragrant country road, till he
had left the last outposts of the city be-
hind him; and then, turning down a lane
•embowered between spreading hedges, and
passing an isolated cottage, slumbering in
the embrace of its own luxuriant green-
ery, he came to a plantation of pines skirt-
ting the road, and leapt the low, mossy,
stone wall, and — found himself at home !
On the next day an extraordinary piece
of luck befell him. A young fool who
had won a hatful of money on the great
race, was flinging his sovereigns about
right and left. The Markiss happened to
^ take a pitch ' near his party, and the
ladies in the carriage chose to admire the
strolling wizard's deft manipulation of the
cards ; a consummation to which his pic-
turesque appearance may in some measure
Result, a couple of sovereigns tossed to
the Markiss, as if they were a couple of
The conjurer opened his eyes as he
pocketed the gold, and said nothing. This
windfall would smooth away the difficul-
ties in the way of his journey to the wife
of John Smith number one. It was curi-
ous how he held on to that notion of
carrying out his promise to his dead friend
with as little delay as possible. Perhaps
it was because, in all those past years of
misery and degradation, he had never had
an ojDportunity of doing anybody a good
turn, and the novelty of the thing attracted
him ; perhaps he snatched at the journey
as an occupation only, glad to have once
more some purpose in life, some object
ahead to aim at, something to lift him for
a time above the soul-stifling influences of
a life lived for the present moment only, a
life without a to-morrow, and, as nearly
as he could make it, without a yesterday
either ; a life as nearly on a level with
that of the brutes as he could render it,
and yet worse by far than that of the
brutes, because, let humanity degrade it-
self as it will, it cannot utterly stifle all
thought and sense of responsibility.
And now John Smith number two had
a little shred of wholesome thought for
the restless tendrils of his mind to wrap
themselves round about, and having some-
thing to look forward to, his old depres-
sion loosened its grip somewhat, and he no
lono-er felt the constant need of drink to
deaden thought. Such a queer sensation it
was — to dare to think! To be able to think,
on one subject at least, without getting the
heart-ache, or wishing himself dead, or fly-
ing to the drink for forgetfulness.
And this windfall of the two sovereigns
he took as a sign that he w^as to prosper on
this Lincolnshire journey. So elated was
he that, meeting the members of his old
PENH ALA. 207
firm on his way down the hill at the end
of the day, he took one of them into his
That was one of his many weak points,
that he could not suspect another of a
meanness impossible to himself.
Because he would have been glad to hear
of another's good fortune, it seemed a
matter of course to him that others should
be glad to hear of his. He was very young
yet, very young indeed, for all the lines
which trouble had graven on his brow, and
round his lips, and in spite of the silver
threads, which showed themselves here and
there among the long wavy masses of his
And so, in the fulness of his heart, and
because of that new pleasant touch of
hopefulness that was on him, he told his
old comrades of his slice of luck, and even
stood drinks round at the first pub they
came to, and then went on his way towards
his last night's camping-ground.
He held out against their invitation to
stay and make a night of it, because he
intended to be off with the dawn, and he
wanted to get a few hours' rest beforehand.
And, for another thing, he had lost the
old incentive to drink till he was drunk
— the power to think was no longer syno-
nymous with the power to suffer. He had
something to do, and he needed a clear
head to plan how best to do it.
And he was planning his journey as he
took his way once again towards Lord
Haphazard's pine-woods, too busily occu-
pied with his own affairs, to notice that he
was being followed at a distance by some-
one who seemed particularly anxious to
avoid observation, judging from the way
he crept along in the shadow.
It struck him once or twice, after he had
PENH ALA. 209
composed himself for the night, that he
heard sounds of movement in the under-
growth near him, the breaking of a dry-
twig underfoot, or the springing back of a
bramble trail that had been forced out of
its natural position by some passing body.
But the Markiss did not trouble himself
to enquire what the sounds might mean.
If poachers were in the woods it was no
affair of his, still less was it his affair if
the keepers were abroad. So he lay there
listening to the whisper of the pine needles,
and the distant croaking of a frog, and the
occasional lowing of kine from the lord
of the manor's dairy-farm close by, until,
by and by, his thoughts grew indefinite
and disconnected, and the sounds around
him ceased to convey any meaning to his
brain, and he slept.
• Mary Fentimore had adopted the prac-
VOL. I. P
210 PENH ALA.
tice of early rising since her arrival at
Love Lane Cottage. That morning half-
hour she spent with Mr. Boxford, tramp-
ing through the woods to the pheasants'
feeding-ground, was one of the most enjoy-
able times during her whole day. She
loved tramping through the dewy woods
in the exquisite sweetness and stillness of
the new-born day, she loved to watch
nature awake, all flushed and fresh, from
her night's rest, and it was a delight to her
to stand back well in the shadow of the
trees, and see the gorgeous birds stealing
shyly from the cover into the open, to peck
daintily at the strewn grain.
One or another of the dogs would usu-
ally accompany them on these occasions,
keeping obediently at his master's heels
on their way through the plantations, and
crouching out of sight in the grass, with
tis muzzle on his paws, while the feeding
was going on.
On this especial morning Roderick, the
setter pup, showed more impatience of
control than usual. Once or twice he
broke away from the pathway, and went
sniffing vigorously among the undergrowth.
He always came back at his master's word,
but he did it plainly under protest, resum-
ino; his investio:ations the moment the
keeper's eye was off him again.
' He's a bit self-willed this morning,'
said Mary, presently.
Boxford shook his head, and shot a
sharp glance through the brushwood.
' There's something there that hadn't
ought to be, as I make it out,' he said.
' The pup wouldn't be so rampageous
about nothing. I'll take a look as I come
back. I'm a bit late for the birds already.'
212 PENH ALA.
' I'll go and look now,' said Mary ; ' and
join you on your way back.'
Boxford threw an approving glance
over his shoulder at her. She was made
of good stuff; such a thing as fear never
seemed to come into her head.
' I shall be back in ^ve minutes, miss,^
he said. ' I expect it'll be dead game,
you'll find. Take my whistle, and call
out if it's anything serious.'
Mary took the whistle and turned off
through the bushes, with the pup whim-
pering excitedly in front of her.
Just at the spot where they had left the
path the undergrowth was unusually
thick, so that it was impossible to see any
distance ahead, and so it happened that
Mary, skirting round a solid clump of
foliage, came, utterly unprepared, upon
what she had come to find.
In that first moment of discovery slie was
not frightened, only startled. The man
was lying on his side with his back to-
wards her, and his head pillowed on his
outstretched arm. She took in at a glance
his black stockings, scarlet knickerbockers,
short black jacket, and a mass of wavy
Evidently one of the wandering min-
strels down for the races, who had stolen
in here for a night's rest. She was turn-
ing away again, when she saw Roderick
put his nose close to the sleeping man's
head, and sniff.
The next instant she was down on her
knees, with the man's face turned up to
the sky, and all the blood in her body
making an inward rush to her heart.
As her glance fell on the red stain
where his head had lain, there was a
moment's qualm ; but she pulled herself
together heroically, and blew a shrill call
on the whistle.
Kind God ! How white his face was !
Everywhere but just that patch above his
temple, where the blood had dried over a
horrible wound. AYas he dead ? No ;
his heart was still beating. Who and
what was he, to be here in such a plight
as this ? His clothes were those of a
wayside mummer, but his delicate features,
and the impress of mental suffering, so
visible, even in his unconsciousness, in
the tense knit of his finely pencilled brows,
and the deep lines of thought above his
auburn moustache, surely they hinted at
something higher in the social scale than
a strolling conjurer ? And his hands I
Beyond all doubt they were the hands of
a gentleman. Those long, slender, flexilCy
tapering fingers, and those well-kept nails
must belong to a man accustomed to the
refinements of civilisation. How drawn
and strained and troubled was the whole
expression of his face ! And yet, surely
he was quite a young man ? He was
broad and big, but there was still that
suo^orestion of lissomness in the lines of
the throat and shoulders, that slenderness
in the loins which seem to hint at further
development in the future.
So young in years, and yet so old in
A great pity welled up in Mary Fenti-
more's heart as she looked. The broad,
candid forehead should have been so
smooth and calm, the fine brows should
never have taken that permanent knit of
sullen suffering — as of one bending be-
neath a burden beyond his strength. She
knew exactly the haunted look his eyes
would have. Ah, now he was oroino^ to
216 PENH ALA.
open them. Heaven, what a spasm of
agony that was ! See how his brows came
together, and his lips drew back, showing
the teeth set hard on one another within !
Would somebody never come !
Again she blew a shrill call on her
whistle, and at the sound the eyes of the
injured man unclosed in sudden, startled
consciousness, and gazed up wonderingly
into her own.
And then came the crashing of hurry-
ing footsteps through the undergrowth,
and the astonished Boxford strode into
'PART OF THE SHADOW THAT IS ON ME.'
It was three weeks since Mary Fentimore
and the pup Roderick had found John
Smith in Lord Haphazard's plantations,
three weeks since he had been brous^ht
home, insensible, to the cottage in Love
Lane, and he was there still.
This was Mary's doing. Boxford had
suggested taking the unconscious man
into Chichester, and leaving him in the
hands of the authorities, but Miss Fenti-
more had begged so earnestly that he
218 PENH ALA.
might be spared the ordeal of the jolting-
ride into the town, and had given the good
people of the house to understand so un-
mistakably that they should lose nothing
by their kindness to the poor fellow, that
it had ended in her having her own way.
Mrs. Boxford, noting the mountebank
attire of the stranger, and, drawing her
own conclusions from the absolute empti-
ness of his pockets, had at first refused
most decisively to have anything to do
with him. But Mrs. Boxford, in her
younger days, had known service in good
families, and flattered herself that she
could always tell an aristocrat by instinct.
And Miss Fentimore, knowing of this little
-weakness of the kind creature's, played
upon it shamelessly to gain her own ends.
' He is no common roadside stroller,'
she said, slyly. ' Look at his finger-tips,,
and his almond-shajDed nails. Look how
delicate his hands are, for all their sun-
burn. A woman who knows as much of
the aristocracy as you do, Mrs. Boxford,
must know that that is the hand of a gen-
tleman. I believe this ridiculous dress is
some mad freak. For all we know he may
be some very highly-born person — some
nobleman's son who was carrying out a
practical joke, and fell into bad company,
and got rough treatment. Surely we can-
not do wrono; in showino^ him a little kind-
ness, till he can tell us who he is, and
enable us to communicate with his friends.'
It was this last touch that carried the day.
Mrs. Boxford's active imagination took a
flying leap into the future ; already she
pictured herself, in her best silk gown,
receiving the thanks of perhaps a duke
— or an earl at least — in her own little
parlour, and the ambitious dream per-
suaded her into a folly which her kind-
ness of heart alone would never have
So the mountebank was carried into her
remaining spare bed-room, and there he
remained for three weeks ; attended by the
best doctor in Chichester, and nursed by
Miss Fentimore and Mrs. B oxford — with
the assistance of a hired nurse for the
Even in his delirium he was a model
patient, but when that trouble was over
and he was rational again, his obedience
to orders, and his perfect patience under
the tedium and misery of convalescence,
made Mary feel sometimes as if she must
run away and have a good cry. She had
had experience of sick men before, and
she knew the state of mind that was
natural to them when recovering from an
illness ; and, knowing this, she asked her-
PENH ALA. 221
self a dozen times a day, what could have
been the circumstances of this man's past
life to produce such humble-mindedness,
such a pathetic gratitude for small services,
as he evidently felt.
Sometimes, as she ministered to his com-
fort, he would watch her about the room
with a look in his eyes that brought a
lump into her throat; and she would have
to run away and tight the folly down by
herself. For Miss Fentimore hated nothing
more than uncalled-for displays of emotion,
and she would never have pardoned herself
for giving way to anything of the kind in
the presence of her patient. Indeed, she
found it rather hard work to forgive her-
self even for the private indulgence of such
folly ; but the sad humility, the shamed
wonderment of the poor fellow's manner,
as he accepted her trifling services, seemed
to hint at such an overwhelming conscious-
ness of his own self-abasement, such a con-
stant sense of his own undeservingness, that
she could not always keep her sorrowful
pity within bounds.
Of course she was annoyed with herself
for giving way in this absurd fashion, and
that was why, as he approached conva-
lescence, she withdrew herself gradually
from the invalid's room. If she could not
remain in his society without behaving like
a weak-minded fool, she must keep out of
it, that was all.
And so it fell out that, for the last few
days of his confinement to his room, John
Smith saw nothingof his sweet-faced nurse,
and missed her as nobody but a sick person
can miss a fellow-creature.
But for all that he never presumed to
speak of her to Mrs. Boxford ; only won-
dered incessantly whether he should ever
see her again, to thank her for her kind-
ness to a castaway who could never hope
to repay her.
Sometimes he hoped he should have
an opportunity of tendering his thanks in
person, at others the mere thought of find-
in": himself ao^ain face to face with her
w^ould fill him with a wordless dread.
With the memory of the life he had lived
for the last three years always more or less
present in his mind, he felt there was a
touch of sacrilege in personal intercourse
between himself and such a woman as this.
Hitherto he had endeavoured to shut his
eyes to his own degradation, but he could no
longer be blind to it. In the moral lumin-
osity of a good woman's presence his social
defilement stood forth with hideous clear-
ness, and he shrank back appalled at the
sudden self-revelation, at the contrast
between his two selves, past and present.
And this was his mental condition when
he found himself strong enough to get
down over the stairs again, and asked for
his clothes, that he might take himself off
out of the way of these good Samaritans.
And then it was that he heard Mary's
' Miss Fentimore has taken the liberty of
getting you some clothes,' Mrs. B oxford
told him. ' She thought you might be shy
of showing yourself in those masquerading
things, when you got about again, and so
she ventured to get some others. Boxford
took your coat to the tailors for the size,
and brought you back a tweed suit.'
John Smith laughed in a kind of feeble
' I wonder if Miss Fentimore under-
stands the sort of character I am,' he said,
roughly. ' Do you take me for a prince
in disguise, that you overwhelm me with
favours like this ?'
But Mrs. Boxforcl only shook her head
and said nothing, and left him to make his
toilette. And, because his own clothes
were nowhere visible, he was forced to at-
tire himself in those of Miss Fentimore's
providing. How did she think he was
ever going to repay her, he wondered sar-
donically ; and began to wish that this fairy
princess, with the clear limpid gray eyes,
and the tender voice, had left him to fight
things out in his own fashion, after he had
been robbed and half murdered out in the
And when he got out on the staircase
presently, and heard no sound of move-
ment in the house, and saw the door below
wide to the summer sunshine, a sudden
idea came to him to make his escape there
VOL. I. Q
and then, and leave his gratitude for some
But he altered his mind when he reach-
ed the open door, for Miss Fentimore was
sitting in the garden, and escaj^e by that
way was impossible.
The poor wretch was very weak yet,
and as he took in the full meaning of the
little picture out there in the shadow of
the acacia tree — the daintily set out tea-
table, the large cane chair, with a rug
spread under it and a large cushion at its
back. Miss Fentimore herself in a spotless
cambric frock, girt round with a pale blue
w^aist-ribbon — as he saw it all, and recog-
nised the fact that the little festival had
been got up in honour of his re-appear-
ance, such a mad yearning after the un-
attainable fell upon him, that the hot tears
rushed to his eyes, and he hid his face
with his hand, and fell back into the
shadow of the porch to steady himself.
How pure and sweet she looked! The
clear pallor of her skin, the healthy red
of her lips, the glistening coils of her
warm, dark hair, the dainty freshness of
her spotless gown, weren't they enough to
give the heart-ache to any poor devil who
had, by his own iniquity, placed all such
things beyond his reach for ever and ever ?
Ay, his penance was not over yet.
Once again, as he stood there in the
creeper-smothered porch, the inclination
to get away, somewhere where she could
not find him, to release her at once and
for ever from the overshadowing influence
of his guilty presence, seized upon him ;
but, before he could pluck back his gaze
from her dainty loveliness, she lifted her
eyes and saw him, and the next thing he
knew was that his hands were in hers, and
she was congratulating him on his con-
valescence, witli her clear, candid glance
raised to his in the outspoken warmth of
a pure woman's friendship.
For a brief, blessed breathing space, as
she led him to the big cane chair, and ar-
ranged his pillows behind him, it seemed
to him that those three-and-a-half years
of black, blinding misery were nothing but
a hideous dream, to be put behind him
and forgotten — for a few minutes all his
old attractive manner returned to him, and
he found himself answering her enquiries
as he would have answered them of old,
in that long past time of his life which
had become a mere memory to him. And
then, all in an instant, the full sum of his
own enormity rushed back upon him, and
he stood up, abruptly checking himself in
the midst of a grateful reply to some of
' What in God's name am I doins:?' he
burst fortli ; and at the sudden anguish in
his voice she stopped her little bustle
among the cups and saucers, and rested
her hands on the edge of the tray, looking
up pitifully at him. ' Miss Fentimore,
this farce mustn't go on any longer. It
took my breath away for a moment, when
you came to me like — like that — as if I
had been an old friend — and greeted me
as you would greet an equal ; I was too
taken aback to set you right at once. It
is all a terrible mistake, my kind little
lady. I am not the sort of man to be
received like this, by you. Do you know
the sort of thing I am? I come of the
very dregs of the people. When I am at
home, I live in that part of London which
is known to such as you as The Slums, and
my associates are, almost without exception,
members of the criminal classes. And I —
if I am not in very deed a criminal myself
— I am the next thing to it — I am a rogue
and a vagabond, dear lady; that is my titles
according to the laws of my country. To
descend to detail, I am a Wayside Wizard ^
who turns a nimble penny by practising
the hocus-pocus business at race-meetings
and penny fairs. I ask your pardon for
presuming to sit in your presence, as I
did just now. I forgot myself — you —
' Forgot myself too,' Mary put in, with a
She was startled, there was no denpng
that, but she was sorry too, more sorry
than she could say, for the worn, weary
man who stood at the other edge of the
small table, bent beneath the heart-break-
ing consciousness of his own fallen con-
' As for presuming to sit in my pre-
sence,' she went on, gently, ' that is all
nonsense. You are not strong enough to
stand. Even now, you are half-fainting
with fatio^ue. Don't let us waste thouo;ht
upon such trifles as social distinctions
until you are a little stronger. At present
our relations towards each other are only
those of nurse and patient, and you must
be docile and obedient. Let me set your
pillows straight for you again. You must
rest yourself. Dressing has fagged you.
I had a serious illness myself some few
Years ao^o, and I remember that the first
day I left my room I was ready to cry
with exhaustion. Some day, when you are
a little stronger, you shall talk to me as
much as you like about yourself, but to-
day we will talk of pleasant things
Agitation and weakness had set him
232 PENH ALA.
shaking, and he offered no further resist-
ance when she gently persuaded him into
his chair again.
He was silent for a little, watching her
dainty management of the tea-table. He
did not remember much about his mother,
but he had one clear memory of her, in a
white dress, making tea in a garden arbour,
with a lawn bathed in the summer sun-
shine as a foreground, and all around her
the flutter of leaves, and the drowsy
buzzing of bees, and the gladsome song of
His mother had been just such another
as this girl ; and he was — what he was !
' I thought,' he said, presently, ' I ex-
pected that you would refuse to have any-
thing more to do with me, when you heard
what I really was.'
' Then you had not formed a very good
opinion of me,' she answered him. ' But
I am not really so surprised as you seemed
to expect ; I guessed at something of the
sort, you know. But I guessed at some-
thing else too — 1 guessed that things with
you had not been always as they are now.
And besides,' she hurried on, afraid that
he might take this last remark as a hint
that she was curious to know more about
him, ' there is another reason why I should
have stood by you in your trouble — you
and I are brother chips — you see we both
belong to the community of mummers —
I am a public singer. For the past year
I have been earning my living as a mem-
ber of Mr. Burlington's travelling opera
company. Perhaps that will make you
feel more at home — to know that I am as
truly a rogue and a vagabond as you your-
self, if we go in for the strict letter of the
A ghost of a smile touched his lips for
234 PENH ALA.
an instant, and was gone again ; and she^
seeing the change it wrought in his face^
was seized with a desire to brino^ it back
' That does not lessen the distance be-
tween us, dear lady. There is nothing in
common — God forbid that there should
be — between you and me ; I belong to
those who stand in the outer darkness for
ever and ever — your lot shall be always
full of brightness, and light, and happiness,
because of the beauty and goodness of
Her eyes darkened with a touch of
' It is because you are weak that you
talk so hopelessly,' she said. ' Because
3^ou have made some terrible mistake in
your past — forgive me ! I can't help guess-
ing at something of the sort — is that any
reason why you are never to do good in
PENH ALA. 235
the time to come ? It is folly ! You are
so young — the best part of your life is
still before you.'
He shook his head.
' If you knew what my past has been
like,' he said, quietly.
As she looked across at his white,
drawn face, a sudden touch of hesitation
fell upon her. The colour came and went
in her cheeks, and, when she spoke, her
timidity was very apparent in her lowered
tone, and the tremulousness of her lips.
' Who has made you a judge of what is
pardonable and what not? I do not be-
lieve there is any sin we are capable of that
is past making atonement for. "Though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as
white as snow." '
She paused suddenly, very much over-
whelmed at her own temerity. She to take
to preaching !
There was a long, long silence, except
for the booming of a big bumble-bee, busy
among the hedge of sun-flowers which shut
off the view of Mrs. Boxford's vegetable
garden, and the curious hum of invisible
life that is always more or less audible in
the hot, dry air of a summer dsij.
John sighed softly under his breath
and looked around him, taking in the ex-
quisite peace and beauty of the picture
with a passionate yearning in his wan
eyes. It was all so strange and wonderful
— and not without its touch of the terrible
too — to find himself — the drunken, soulless
blackguard, the past associate of criminals
— thieves who lived openly on the pro-
ceeds of their robberies, and so forth — to
find himself in the solemn silence of this
summer afternoon, tete-a-tete^ on a footing of
equality, with this pure, soft- voiced, dainty-
minded girl. Could it be really he — the
PENH ALA. 237
strolling conjurer, the past comrade of
^velshers and pickpockets — who was sitting
here, in social intercourse with this refined
creature, who had 'Lady' written on every
fold of her clean white gown, every tone of
her exquisite voice, every thought of her
pure, holy mind ?
' " White as snow," ' he said, breaking
that long pause with a repetition of her
last words. ' " White as snow " ? That I
shall never be. Repentance and pardon
don't come in the way of such as me.
And yet — ' he paused, meeting her com-
passionate glance, and went on again, with
a quick longing at his heart to be even as
she would have him, — ' and yet, if I could
cleanse myself of some of the scum that has
settled on me in these last ghastly years,
I would — I would try to be something
better than I have been, if only out of
gratitude to you, dear lady.'
Mary's face flushed again.
' I am glad !' she said, and she put out
a quick, eager hand across the table to
him. But he held back, though there
came a faint reflection of her flush into
his hollow cheeks.
' Am I forgetting myself again ?' she
asked, with a tremulous little laugh.
^ Never mind ! I won't ask you to shake
hands again till you are better friends
with yourself. I was so glad — that was
all. Life shall be a beautiful thing for
you yet ; you shall see. And because you
are doing this great thing for me, you will
let me do something for you in return.
You won't be proud with me. There
must be some way in which you can help
yourself, and you will let me help you
to find it out. You will not run away
again and hide yourself from your friend ?'
' Dear lady '
PENH ALA. 239
• Xo ; I will not have you call me that!
All that sort of thing belongs to the old
life — to-day we will start with the new.
You will use my name in speaking to
me ; and I will use yours, with your
Her bonhomie won upon him ; he gave
her iDack her smile, though about his there
was a substratum of self-depreciation.
He could not forget so soon the distance
between them, or the reverence due from
him to her.
' I cannot offer you a visiting-card —
when those murderous ruffians stripped
my pockets, they did it thoroughly — but
my name is John Smith.'
'Well, at any rate, there will be no
difficulty about remembering it,' she said,
not allowing him to guess for an instant
that she suspected the alias. ' So they
stripped your pockets ? Mr. B oxford said
you liad been robbed, as well as balf-
murdered. Did they take anj^thing very
important? Would you like to put the
matter into the hands of the police ?'
His smile this time came with a differ-
ence. The suo:o:estion touched his sense
of humour. He to apply to the police !
' It would be useless now/ he said.
' There was a parcel of papers that T pro-
mised to deliver to the widow of a dead
friend. The poor fellow died only the
night before I came down here. For
years he had heard nothing from his wife
until that day — the day of his death — and
then he only heard that she was staying
with her people in Lincolnshire, and that
they were all going to emigrate. They
were to sail for Australia the first week in
August. He had been a rough one, but,
when the end came, his thoughts were all
for the poor soul he had driven from him.
I promised to go to her, and lie gave me
all kinds of messages, and this bundle of
papers ; hut the opportunity is lost. Even
if I recovered the papers, which I should
not do — the thieves who robbed me would
not keep such incriminating evidence, you
may be sure — but, even if I did, where
would be the use ? She is half-way to
Australia by now.'
'It is a pity,' said Mary, softly ; ' a
promise to the dead is such a sacred
Her words started a new train of thought.
He did not speak at once, and when he
did, he spoke more to himself than to
' It is all part of the shadow that is on
me,' he said, sombrously. ' My heart was
set on doing it. Another man would have
been allowed to carry out his promise.
Such little pleasures are not for me.'
VOL. I. R
Mary pretended not to hear. She
changed the conversation by asking him
if he had any taste for music, and when
she found that, upon this point at least,
they were kindred spirits, she kept him
talking brightly and pleasantly, until the
sloping shadows warned her that it was
time her patient was back in the dryer and
safer atmosphere of his own room.
And perhaps, though he had put the
thought into words — that his inability to
keep his promise to his dead friend was
' all part of the shadow that was on him '
— he did not himself realise the full truth
of the saying.
This one o;ood thins; that he had tried
to do in all those years of bestial degra-
dation, was it not ' part of the shadow that
was on him,' that it should, in the time to
come, tell against, rather than for his life's
happiness ; that this attempt to serve a
friend should, in the lono^ run, tell for his
shame rather than his credit ?
When he was back in bed again, and
Mrs. Boxford came in to see that he had
all that he needed for the night, he asked
for his own black jacket, the one he was
wearing when they found him in the
And after the good woman was gone,
and he was alone again, he sat up in bed
and ripped a few stitches under the collar,
and drew out a slender packet of news-
2)aper from under the stiffened lining.
There were Hxe cuttings in the packet —
two of some length, the others mere scraps,
and they all referred to one subject — the
search for Hagar Polwhele's accredited
murderer, John Penhala.
Mary Fentimore was singing somewhere
among the shadows in the garden under
the open window of John Smith's room ;
and as he sat up in bed, reading his cut-
tings by the light of the August afterglow,
he was conscious of the melody of her
voice, entangling itself among the matter-
of-fact phraseology of the newspaper scribe.
'We understand it is the intention of
the Government to offer a reward of a hun-
dred pounds, for such information as shall
lead to the arrest of John Penhala, the
suspected murderer of Hagar Polwhele.'
He might almost have been reading
them for the first time, judging by the
close attention he gave them, and indeed
there was a certain sense of freshness in
their perusal. More than a year had
passed since he sewed them up in the
collar of his ' property ' jacket, and the
cruelty of them came now as something
new to him. He had always known how
hard and pitiless they were, but desuetude
had a little blunted the keenness of their
edge, and now their merciless harshness
smote him almost as if he had never fully
realised it before.
And through the evening's quietness
rose Mary's voice from the shadowy gar-
den beneath, as he picked up the next and
' It is reported at Carn Ruth that Morris
Edyvean — the one-time sweetheart of the
girl Hagar Polwhele, who was drowned at
Carn Ruth last Christmas time — is about
to leave his home, and start on a world-
wide search after the man whom he ac-
cuses of her murder. He has dedicated
himself, so it is said, to the one purpose —
tracking down her murderer — and as he is
an unusually powerful man, considerably
over six feet in height, it would probably
go hard with John Penhala if they should
ever meet face to face.'
He read them all through, sitting on the
bed, with his knees hunched up to his chiuy
and when he had read them he still sat
there, listening to the singing underneath,
and wondering whether he should destroy
them or not. He could hardly tell why
he had taken such pains to keep them all
these years, no more than he could tell
why he had such a rooted disinclination
to destroy them now. He had always
known there was danger in keeping them,
that was why he had taken such pains to
secrete them, and yet he could not bring
himself to make away with them.
Perhaps it was because they formed a
link, the only one left, between his jDast
and his present. AVell, even so, it was
folly to preserve them. What had he to
hope for from his past ? Nothing ! Why
then seek to keep himself in touch with
it? Why, indeed! He did not know.
He only knew that some influence, stronger
than his o^vn common-sense, held back his
hand, when he would have destroyed those
ill-omened scraps of paper.
Mary was still singing as he tucked
them back into their old hiding-place, and
sewed up the opening in the seam. She
was indoors now, the sweetness of her
voice penetrated the walls but faintly as
she sang, without accompaniment, Mar-
The music seemed to be calling him,
urging him to leave the past behind him
at once and for ever, and to live for the
future alone. For a moment his needle
paused, — should he destroy the incrimi-
nating evidence ? — and then went on
again. Xo, the cuttings were safe enough
Was it all a part of the shadow that was
on him ?
A MATTER OF MUTUAL OBLIGATION.
If, in the course of the next few weeks,
John Smith succeeded in overcoming to a
certain degree that distressing sense of his
own social abasement, which had been so
noticeable in his first interview with Miss
Fentimore, if he was no longer so contin-
uously conscious of the impassable dis-
tance — social and moral — which separated
him from her, the praise or the blame of
the change rested entirely with Mary her-
self. She had set her heart on the re-
clamation of this unfortunate sinner, and
she had begun her task by fostering and
cultivating his self-respect. And now he
was almost beo-innino* to believe that there
was some faint little hope for him after all,
that he was to have a chance at last of
leaving the bitter mistakes of the past be-
hind him, a chance of making a fresh bid
for the life of a man, rather than the
existence of a brute beast.
Xot that he was less really humble-
minded than before — it would be a matter
of years rather than weeks before he could
shake off the humility which always came
of a glance at the years behind him — but
his sense of degradation was less con-
spicuous than it had been ; reverence there
still was in his manner to Mary, but the
old obsequiousness had disappeared; he
still recognised, and acknowledged by
every word and look, her spiritual superi-
ority, but he did not show such an ever
present consciousness of the social dis-
parity between himself and his sweety
For in a sort of way he was still Mary's
guest. That is to say, he had so per-
sistently declared the impossibility of tres-
passing further on her generosity, that she
had cast about for and found means of
satisfying his scruples. For the last fort-
night he had been working live or six
hours a day at music-copying, Mary having
suddenly discovered that it was necessary
she should have all her operatic parts re-
written without delay. Before this supply
of employment gave out she wrote to Mr.
Burlington, asking him to allow her to
make him a present of an entire set of new
orchestral parts for some of his operas, a
request he granted without demur, though
not without a little wonder on the subject
of ' Fentimore's little game.'
PENH ALA. 251
And so, day after day, John Smitli sat
out on the tiny lavrn, in the shadow of the
acacia-tree, in the mellow softness of the
September atmosphere, with his music
sheets spread out on the table before him,
working as, in all his life, he had never
worked before. And the peaceful repose
— is there any time of the year that is so
soothing in its influences as those weeks
at the end of summer, before the final
break-up comes ? Those utterly still morn-
ings, when the warm translucent mist lies
like a veil over the face of the earth, waiting
till the amorous touch of her lover the sun
shall lift it, and leave her beauty disclosed
in all the fulness of accomplishment ; the
swooning heat of the noon-day; the languor-
ous softness of the afternoons; the seductive
silence of the evenings, when the moon
comes up, big and ruddy, mounting slowly
through the layers of vapour till she lifts
herself clear of them, and sails smoothly
on, across the solemn background of il-
limitable space — the birds scarcely chirp
the day through, just now, their family
cares are over for the year, and they are
lazy as the result of a too easily satisfied
appetite; the bees, thinned in numbers, go
about their labour with far less bustle and
obtrusiveness than when the summer's work
was still before them ; all nature seems to
be resting, with the air of one conscious of
a good day's work done, conscious of
And John Smith sat and worked at his
copying amid this balmy sweetness, this re-
pose of maturity, and some of the restful
influences of his surroundings penetrated
to his tempest-riven spirit, and brought
some touch of healing with it.
And Mary, watching him from the
shadowy recesses of her flower-filled par-
lour, would sigh and wish he would not-
work quite so hard ; she could scarcely
persuade him to exchange half-a-dozen
words with her, until his day's allotted
portion of work was finished.
Perhaps, though, this very abstinence
made the enjoyment of the evening's com-
panionship all the keener, when they sat
out in the garden talking, or watched the
moon rise in a delicious, companionable
silence, or went into the fragrant little par-
lour and sang, to the accompaniment of
the piano which Miss Fentimore had hired
on her first arrival at the cottage.
And Miss Fentimore, hearino; and takinor
heed unto John Smith's cultivated method
and refined voice, was careful to give no
expression to any conjectures she formed
on the matter. If the whole truth must
be told, she was considerably surprised to
find how exceedingly well he sang. He
ivas a gentleman by birth and upbringing,
of course ; she had known that all along.
His slim finger-tips, his soft, easy speech,
the spontaneity of his little attentions to
her wants at the table — everything told
the same story ; but, admitting that he was
all she had guessed, his singing was still
not to be accounted for in that fashion.
He sang like one who had received a pro-
fessional training. And yet there was no
sign of the professional vocalist about him.
His manners, but for those intermittent
flashes of shame, were purely and simply
those of a gentleman.
And it was because of this that matters
were so difficult for missionary Mary.
Occupation of some sort he must have —
his determined attitude of independence
demanded it — but occupation for a gentle-
man is, unhappily, so difficult to find.
What would he do when her vacation was
over, and she had resumed her duties as a
member of Mr. Burlington's opera com-
pany? Was he to slip away from his
present standing ]Dlace, back into the social
quagmire from which she had but just res-
cued him ? The thought made her clasp
her hands in veritable agony of mind.
And while she was plaguing herself day
and night over the problem of John Smith's
ultimate fate, something happened which
seemed to her, in the impulsive gratitude
of the moment, to be an actual interposi-
tion of providence on behalf of her inter-
Mrs. Burlington, in writing to acknow-
ledge a parcel of parts, mentioned a sur-
prising piece of news.
' We are just now in a great state of
suspense. Lascelles has lost his father,
and will of course come into the property
at once. We have not heard from him
yet — we saw the announcements of the
death in the paper — but we are expecting
a line from him daily, to tell us that he
does not return to us. Wilfred is beside
himself with anxiety. If it had happened
at the beginning of the vacation, or even a
month ago, we might have replaced him
without much difficulty, but all the autumn
engagements are made now, and the good
men all booked, until Christmas at least,
and we shall probably have to put up with
some ghastly stick, who will ruin every
scene he appears in.'
Mary received the letter by the after-
noon post, and, as she gathered the full
meaning of the news, a quick, sudden
throb of gladness sent the blood flashing
into her cheeks.
She glanced through the open window
at the quiet, absorbed figure under the
acacia-tree. The very thing! If he would^
oh, if he only would !
Without stopping to give it a second
thought — how indeed should a second
thought be needed for an arrangement so
exactly in keeping with all the require-
ments of the case ? Her state of delight was-
such that to wait to consider would have
seemed almost like ingratitude — with her
face alight with pleasure, and Mrs. Bur-
lington's letter still in her hand, she ran
out to the garden, speaking as she went.
' I must break rules, John Smith ! Lay
down your pen and listen to me. I have
a great, a magnificent scheme to propose
to you ! How would you like an engage-
ment as second tenor in Mr. Burlington's
opera company ?'
He did not answer her instantly, only
lifted his head and looked at her smiling-
VOL. I. S
ly, with his finger still keeping his place
on the sheet he was copying, awaiting
further enlightenment. She was always
pleasant to look at, this girl with the ten-
der, luminous gray eyes, and the sweet
mobile mouth, but, somehow, she had
never looked quite so lovely in his sight as
she looked at that moment, with the light
of a great gladness on her face.
' It is all going to fall out as we want it
— just as it does in books,' she went on,
laughing gently at his look of blank non-
comprehension ; indeed, in her present state
of joyousness she was glad to find some ex-
cuse for laughter. ' Here are we puzzling
our heads over the question of your future
career, and then, at a breath, comes this
suggestion, and there is no longer any
difficulty at all. Mr. Burlington is in want
of a second tenor, and I can secure the en-
gagement for you, if you care to accept it.'
He understood now what it was she was
offering him, and he saw at a glance what
lay behind her words. And of all the bene-
fits he was likely to reap from this sudden
stroke of good fortune, only one stood out
clearly in his mind — it would mean a con-
tinuance of the friendship betAveen him
and her. That separation in the immedi-
ate future, which he had been looking for-
ward to with a dread unspeakable, would
be avoided I And at the thought he rose
hurriedly, with an inarticulate cry in his
throat, and stood looking at her, afraid,
even now, to believe, lest disappointment
And the alternations of passionate hope
and fear that chased one another across
his features, she took for signs of gladness
because he saw at last, oj^ening out before
bim, a chance of redeeming his past. And
she felt a great thrill and glow of joy at
her "heart, because she had been able to
help him up the hill a little, the steep
difficult hill that lies between blackguard-
ism and self-respect.
' Now don't let us be childish and im-
pulsive over this business,' she cried, mak-
ing a determined effort to treat the whole
affair as a matter of business only. ' There
is really nothing to fuss about — it is pure-
ly a matter of mutual obligation — Mr. Bur-
lington is in a bit of a fix for want of a
tenor, you are anxious to obtain enploy-
ment, and are just the man Mr. Burlington
wants ; and I want you to try for the en-
gagement, because Mr. Burlington has been
such a good friend to me, and I should so
like to do him a good turn if I could. May
I wire to Mrs. Burlington noAV, in your
' You shall do what seems best to you,*
he said, speaking at last, though speech
was still an effort to him, and his voice
was low and muffled under the strain of
his strong feeling. ' You are my good
angel, Miss Fentimore ; I leave myself in
your hands. If you are not afraid of in-
troducing such a blackguard to your
friends — '
' I'm a little afraid of one thing,' she
broke in, cutting him short with a touch of
tender impatience at his self-depreciation —
^ you mayn't like the life. Though it will
be an upward step from the wayside wizard
business, still there are drawbacks. We
are not all quite so — so — nice — so
generous to each other, as we might be ;
and we are pretentious, too, some of us ;
and I think it is extremely probable that
you will find more difficulty in putting up
with our vulgar pretentiousness, than with
the outspoken ruffianism that you talk
about so often. Still, as I said, it is an
262 PENH ALA.
upward step, and who can tell what it may-
lead to in the future.'
' It seems to me,' said John, recovering^
himself somewhat from his first over-power-
ing touch of emotion, but with such a
softening of his lips and such a light in
his eyes, as the reality of this dazzling
hope came home to him, that it almost
seemed to Mary she had never seen this
man's face before, ' it seems to me, that you
were sent into the world to be my salvation.
Yes, indeed, you must let me speak out
something of what is in my heart, or it
will burst asunder from very fulness. It
seems to me that the powers that rule the
destinies of us mortals have suddenly lifted
me out of the darkness of night, and set me
in the light of the noon-day — and I'm
wondering why. Unless indeed — ' he
added, with a swift touch of memory, and
then checked himself, and looked at her
half doubtfully. Should he tell her his
history, or should he remain silent ? ' You
know,' he went on again, after that pause
of indecision, ' I have never tried to excuse
myself to you, I have never tried to make
out that I am an innocent martyr, that I
don't deserve all that has befallen me. I
do thoroughly deserve it. Miss Fentimore —
I deserve every hour of wretchedness and
misery that I have gone through since the
day of my disgrace ; I acted like a scoun-
drel, and I've had to put up with the con-
sequences, and I'm not going to cry out
about it. I can't say I've taken my punish-
ment like a man, but at any rate I've not
whined and whimpered over it. But now,
when, in spite of myself, I am almost be-
ginning to believe that life — my life — is to
be worth livino^ ao^ain, I've orot a mad wish
to clear myself in your estimation on one
point — I acknowledge that I deserved all
that has fallen on me, but I should like
you to know that just that one piece of
villainy, the suspicion of which drove me
from my father s house, and made a social
pariah of me, I am not guilty of; the one
piece of wickedness which the whole world
credits me with I did not commit; the one
charge which has turned me into an
Ishmaelite for all time I am innocent of.
As surely as I am grateful for the inestim-
able blessing of your friendship, I swear
this to you, I swear it solemnly I If, at
any time in the future, you should learn
who and what I really am, I ask you to re-
member this assertion of mine, and never
to doubt it — the crime I am accused of I
am innocent of I You believe me?'
' Most thoroughly !'
' Ah !'
It was a sigh of fervent relief, a sigh
which spoke so eloquently of the burden
just cast off, that Marj's lip trembled a
little for very pity.
And so he told half his story, and leffc
half untold, forgetful of the danger of half-
'If you knew what it was to rest for
years under an unjust accusation, and then
to find some one — and some one whose
good opinion is inestimably preci > :
you — who believes in your innocence!
But it is only one more good gift from you
to me — this belief in me. It sets me
shaking sometimes when I think of all I
owe you. My very soul you have given
back to me — you found me a brute, and
you have revived in me some touch of man-
hood. May God reward you as you
deserve — as He alone can.'
They waited a little, looking at one an-
other in a silence that was more eloquent
of intense feeling than the most fervid
speech. Very wliite their faces were
as they held each other in the close^
lingering gaze of a complete unity of
thought and feeling. Then he put his
hand out, Avith a touch of something like
entreaty in the action.
' I have never dared to take your hand
before. May I take it now, because of
the hope of something better to come that
is lifting my heart up so wonderfully ? If
there is less contamination in my touch
than there was, it is due to the purifying
power of a good woman's influence.'
They stood awhile, hand in hand, eye to
eye, with the autumn stillness like an in-
visible wall all about them, and they two
alone in it. The silence between them
was of that indescribable quality which
invests the very vibrations of the heart
with the power of speech — the only form
of speech possible at such a moment.
And, presently, he grew terrified lest even
that inarticulate recital of his feelings
should grow too outspoken, and tell her
more than she would deign to listen to of
the state of his mind. A sudden fear of
his own presumption fell on him. He
dropped her hand, and lowered his eyes,
and strode off hurriedly ; through the
gate, down the leafy lane, out of sight.
Mary stood there a breathless spell,
And the stirred wonder was still in
her eyes when she turned and went into
AN UPWARD STEP.
Missionary Mary's scheme for the better-
ing of John's position prospered so exceed-
ingly, that a cynical onlooker, had there
been any such at hand, would have inevit-
ably come to the conclusion that this dish
of broth was of the devil's own brewing.
From start to finish there was never a
hitch in the negociations between Mr.
Burlington and his new tenor.
On the day following the receipt of the
wire from Miss Fentimore, the manager
ran down to Chichester, met Mr. Smith bv
appointment at the princij)al music-shop,
tried his voice, took his observations on
the questions of appearance, presence,
etcetera, and, concluding that Miss Fenti-
more's '* find ' was likely to turn out an
unusually satisfactory stop-gap, came to
terms at once.
And in a small way John was a success.
In his position as second tenor, it was
hardly expected of him that he should
make a sensation with the public ; but
he was expected to be note-perfect in his
parts, to put himself into the background
as much as was consistent with the con-
struction of the scene, as often as he and
the leading soprano occupied the stage
together, and to be ready and willing to
come to the rescue of the management in
any emergency that might arise ; and all
these expectations he fulfilled to the letter.
For his heart was still aglow with grati-
tude to his good angel, and he worked
like a horse to do credit to her recom-
And so it was that he quietly but surely
attained a popular position in the company.
Among the men he was ' A good sort of
fellow; a bit close about himself; but as
fair a chap in business as one could wish
to meet ' — which really meant that he
carried his unobtrusiveness on the stage
to the verge of self-effacement, and allowed
other people to claim his share of the
applause as well as their own. The honest
truth of the matter was, that he cared no-
thing for the applause but a very great
deal for Miss Fentimore's approval ; and,
so long as he got that, he was indifferent
to the opinion of the audience.
With the ladies he was even a greater
favourite than with the men. It is
possible that they too appreciated his
consistent humble-mindedness on the
stage, but they were also attracted by the
quiet deference of his bearing towards
them ; and his handsome broAvn eyes, and
waving chestnut hair, and close silky
brown beard, and muscular figure certain-
ly did their share, in securing for him the
favourable opinion of the female members
of the company.
And Mary watched his growing popu-
larity and the increasing improvement in
his morale with a sweet, secret delight.
Every little advance he made Avas a source
of great gladness to her, and she took
more pride, immeasurably more, in every
little success he scored with the audience
than she had ever taken in her own oTeater
triumphs. And he knew exactly how she
felt on this point, and the knowledge
spurred him on to such constant effort
and endeavour that it told with the audi-
ences as, despite his modesty, it was bound
to do, and Burlington declared openly
that he had never had such a painstaking
artist in his employ since he started
And in those days the Morelli-Fentimore
feud waxed secretlv stronojer. Hitherto
the Italian's jealousy had been a profes-
sional jealousy only ; now it was something
more. John's bright, wavy locks, and his
sorrow-clouded glance, and the wistfulness
of his unfrequent smile had attracted the
fancy of the hl^ick-hrowed 2)rima-cIojvia, at
the very moment of his presentation ; and
when to these advantages was added that
marked unobtrusiveness in business, which
left the applause entirely at her feet, her
heart warmed to this operatic novice as it
had never warmed to man before. It was
a curious feeling she developed for him,
half patronage, half love. Hitherto her
consuminof ambition had filled her life, to
the exclusion of all gentler passions, and
perhaps it was because she so rarely smiled
upon a man that now, when she did, she ex-
pected her favours to be accepted humbly
and responded to with avidity.
But this was just what John could not
and would- not do. At first Morelli put
his unresponsiveness down to modesty,
and grew warmer in her encouragement
accordingly: but wlien she found there
was somethino' besides his difiidence ob-
structing her wishes, she grew furious,
and vowed to herself that he should find
good cause, sooner or later, to regret the
slight he had put on her.
And just about the time that Xita
Morelli discovered the futility of her de-
signs upon John, it happened that he had
his first and last slight misunderstanding
VOL. I. T
with Burlington. Burlington wanted him
to take oiF his beard for a certain part, and
he refused point-blank.
' But you can't possibly play this part
with a beard, my dear fellow!' remon-
strated the perplexed manager, with a
glance at the other members of the com-
pany, who were gathered round awaiting
the commencement of the rehearsal ; ' and
you can hardly expect me to engage a
man for this one especial j^art because you
object to shave.'
' I expect nothing,' returned John,
quietly. 'You must consult your own
' Do you mean that, sooner than take
off your beard, you would throw the
engagement up altogether?' ^
' Yes,' answered the second tenor, speak-
ing entirely without bluster, but with ab-
solute decision. ' I'm afraid I do mean
that. Nothing you could offer me in the
way of parts or salary would induce me
to part with my beard.'
' AYell, I'm blest !' ejaculated Burling-
ton, vastly astonished at this sudden
exhibition of stubbornness in one he
had hitherto found so willing to oblige.
He would doubtless have been still
more surprised if he had known the real
particulars of John's financial position, if
he had known that there was nothing be-
tween his new tenor and penury but the
weekly salary he paid him. However,
he neither knew nor guessed at John's
' That's the worst of you chaps with
means of your own, you're so confound-
edly independent when you do take a
whim into your heads. Xow what is your
objection to shaving ? You're not going
to tell me it's pure conceit, are you ? Be-
276 PENH ALA.
cause if that's it, I can tell you you'd be
a sight better looking without the beard
than with it.'
John Smith smiled in a way which
effectually disposed of that view of the
' Then what the deuce are you jibbing
at ?' cried the irritated Burlington, with
another glance at the interested faces
around him. ^ You're such an obliging
chap, as a rule ; what on earth do you
want to set your back up over such a
trifling thing as this for ? It'll put me to
no end of inconvenience, you know, to
drag the man over from the number two
company as often as we want to do this
opera ; and that's what I shall have to do
if you won't give way. And the weeks he
comes to us you'll have to take his place
in the other crowd, and you won't like
that, I expect.'
But John snatched eagerly at this way
out of the dilemma. He would not object
to the extra travelling at all, and he would
make no trouble of an occasional week
with the number two company — he would
do anything, in short, to oblige Mr. Bur-
lington, but dispense with his beard, and
that he would not do.
Morelli, with the wound to her slighted
vanity still raw, seized on the little inci-
dent and made all she could of it. To
Burlington she held forth on John's ob-
stinacy until the good-natured manager
was sick of the subject ; among the
members of the company she threw out
hints of Mr. Smith's possible motives for
refusing to take off his beard, and showed
her spite so plainly, that they joked
among themselves over her disappoint-
ment. And she heard of the fun that
was being made at her expense, and added
it as another mark to her score against the
upstart amateur; which was her latest
title for unfortunate John. But her veno-
mous attacks fell upon barren ground —
she was not popular with the company,
and John Smith was, and they refused to
believe that, because he would not shave,
he must needs be a criminal of the deepest
dye. And so the breeze passed over ap-
parently without doing any damage. But
circumstances, which seem slight enough
in themselves at the time, occasionally
prove of the gravest importance, when
the sum total for and against a man's good
name comes to be reckoned up.
As Miss Fentimore left the theatre at
the end of that rehearsal John ventured
to offer his escort ; a thing he very
seldom did, for he had been scrupulously
careful, since joining the company, to
avoid doing anything that could bring her
PENH ALA. 279
name into association with his. It avouIcI
be a queer return to make for her un-
paralleled oroodness to him, to lower her
fair name by bringing it down to the
level of his. This was the reason he had
never sought her society privately, striv-
ing to content himself with a word or two
spoken amid the chatter of the green-room,
or the hurry and bustle of departure and
arrival on the railway platforms, during
their weekly journeyings from town to
town. But to-day he felt bound to get a
few words with her in private, come what
might of it, and so he asked to be allowed
to walk to her lodgings with her.
There was less familiarity between them
now than there had been in the Love Lane
days, and they were both conscious of a
touch of shyness as they turned away from
the stage door, and set their faces towards
Prince's Street — for the little arofument
happened during their stay in Edinbursjh.
All the world seemed to be abroad, this
crisp December day, on the wide pavement
of the most beautiful street in the world,
and as Miss Fentimore and her cavalier
threaded their way through the well-
dressed crowd they came in for a fair share
of observation. For Mary's portrait smiled
at the passers from all the music-sellers'
windows in the town, and if John was not
equally well known, his calling was guess-
ed at by the shrewd Scotch folks ; and
they were almost as interested in him as
in his fair companion. But this morning
the}^ were scarcely conscious of the ob-
servation they were exciting, they were too
deeply absorbed in their own affairs.
' I hope you are not annoyed with me
for what happened this morning,' said
John, as soon as they were well clear of
the theatre. ' It must have seemed so
churlish to refuse to do what Burlington
asked, and yet '
' But that is nonsense !' broke in Mary,
brightly. ' Mayn't a man follow his own
wishes about the length of his own beard ?
How could you think I should be annoyed
with you for such a thing?'
John smiled his wistful smile round at
her, and glanced away again, along the
streams of people coming and going ahead
of him, before he answered her.
' You see. Miss Fentimore, that is just
what I can't do.' There was keen pain
underlying the quietness of his voice, and
Mary suddenly found herself wishing he
would not say what he was going to.
^ That is what I wanted to explain to you.
If it was merely a matter of personal whim
or liking, do you think I would have held
out about it ? Do you think I set so little
store by all you have done for me, as to
risk the loss of it for tlie indulgence of a
paltry bit of vanity ? Did you liear what
good-natured old Crawford said about my
beard preserving my throat from mischief?
Well, that is the real truth of the case ;
though perhaps not in just the manner he
meant. Have you never realised what an
extraordinary change a beard works in a
man's appearance ? If I were to dare to
take my beard off — you remember what I
told you the afternoon you came out to me
under the acacia-tree, and first suggested
that I should try for this engagement?
Something about an accusation hanging
over my head, an accusation of a crime I
am innocent of?'
By her face he saw that she did, and
went on without waiting a reply.
' It is because of that that I hold on so
desperately to the disguise of my beard.
Preserve my throat indeed ! It does more
ttan that, Miss Fentimore, it preserves my
She turned her glance to his in blank
inquiry, and, reading in a flash the full
meaning of his words, she cried out as if
he had struck her, and reeled a step apart
Quick as thought he twisted her round
towards the shop- windows, and placed
himself as a shield between her white,
terror-stricken face, and the curious obser-
vation of the passing crowd. He had not
anticipated her terror, and it came as a
shock to him ; but he did not lose his
self-possession as she had done.
' It never struck me that it might
frighten you,' he said, putting her hand
under his arm, and making a great dis-
play of interest in the contents of the
window. ' I would not have told you if
I had known, but I thought you had
guessed. I forgot that you would most
likely be half dead with terror to find
yourself in the presence of a sus-
'No!' she cried, under her breath.
• No ! don't say it ! Hush ! let me steady
The hand clutching so desperately at his
coat-sleeve, and the wide-stretched, piteous
eyes fixed so searchingly on him, as if she
would fain persuade herself that he was
only trifling with her, hurt him horribly.
This was to be her attitude towards him
for the future — a terrified pity, or a pity-
ing terror. He was to be a waking night-
mare to her! Ah, but he would not
though — he would take himself out of her
life altogether, rather.
' Poor, scared little child,' he said,
tenderly, forgetting his old humility as
the necessity for protection arose, ' poor
friojhtened little woman ! Why did I
pounce the hideous truth out on you like
that ? Blundering brute that I am ! I
ought to have known how it would shock
you. Don't look at me like that — people
will wonder — and — it cuts me like a
' It is terrible !' she muttered, dropping
her eyes in obedience to his hint. ' It is
ghastly — awful ! I never guessed at —
that. I never dreamt your danger was so
extreme as that. Oh, why do you stay in
the country at all ? Why don't you go
away to the other side of the world, where
you would be in comparative safety?'
' My safety ? Is it my safety you are
thinking of? Is it the thought of my
danger that frightened you so?' The dis-
covery sent a quick glow through him.
Thank God, she was frightened for him
rather than of him ! ' Was it your fear
for me that knocked you over like that ?
It comes upon me in the same way some-
times, even now. But that is only when
the memory flashes into my mind all in
an instant — without a moment's warning,
and I see myself already at the finish, pay-
ing the penalty for a crime I did not
commit. When the recollection of the
fate hanging over me comes on me sud-
denly in that way, I go faint and sick with
the horror of it. At other times, when I
force myself to face the possibility quietly,
as now, I can keep my cowardice under
' Cowardice ?' she repeated, smiling
wanly up at him. ' Cowardice?'
They were walking on again now, and
had nearly arrived at the end of their
' Well,' he said, answering her smile with
one which had plenty of manhood in it,
* I don't know what else you call the fear
of death. It is a thing that must come to
us sooner or later, and since we must die,
it ought not to make so much difference
whether one dies between the sheets, or
in the open air with a rope '
' Oh, for God's sake, don't, I pray of
you !' she gasped. ' If you talk like that,
I shall drop dead at your feet.'
Her intense anguish was such that he
instinctively drew back a step, the better
to read the expression of her face. She
stood in the open doorway of the Edin-
burgh house, with the dense shadow of
the public stairway behind her. Strange-
ly white and ethereal her face looked
against the blackness of the dark entry,
but there was something besides terror in
it — something which overwhelmed him
in a sudden rush of wildly conflicting
emotions, which, passing, left him shaking,
with a feeling at liis heart as if a hand of
ice had grasped it.
They had just been talking of cowardice
— this would be cowardice indeed, to take
advantange of the knowledge which had
that instant flashed in on his under-
' You must make allowances for me,'
she went on, faintly, and he knew just
the pleading smile she wore though he was
not looking at her ; for, amid all the blind
bewilderment of the moment, he had sense
enough to keep his gaze away from hers,
knowing the trouble in her face might be
too much for him. ' I can't control myself
as you can. I go weak and faint when
you say those things. And yet, if you
could talk to me about it a little, it might
be that Will you come in for a few
minutes? We can talk better upstairs;
and I can't send you away like this.'
PENH ALA. 289
She turned and went up the stairs,
going slowly, and holding on to the hand-
rail as if she felt the need of its assistance,
and he followed her.
It was the first time he had been in a
room inhabited by her since the days in
the Sussex cottage ; and even at that mo-
ment, amid all the rack and hurry of his
brain, he was conscious, as he entered the
large, light room looking out on to the
Leith road, of the subtle influence of her
personality surrounding him.
In what it consisted he could not tell,
he only felt that if he had stumbled
accidentally into this room, without any
previous knowledge on the matter, his
instinct would have informed him of the
individuality of the occupant.
She went over to a large, old-fashioned
couch between the high windows, and
sank on it with an air of exhaustion, and
VOL. I. u
290 PENH ALA.
pulled off her gloves and removed her
veil and hat, and pushed her trembling
fingers through the luxuriant masses of
hair above her brow, as if even that
weight were too much for her head just
^ I have often wondered how and when
you would next pay me a visit,' she said,
smiling sorrowfully across the big room at
him. ' I never thought of such circum-
' You know now why I never came,' he
put in, as she broke off in sheer inability
to go on. ' Even apart from this, there i&
so much in my life that should keep me
from pressing my society on a pure, good
woman ; but, if there were nothing else,
this would be enough. The blight that
is on me is contagious. It might spread
at any time to those who associate with
me. I have tried to keep you free of this
PENH ALA. 291
risk — to keep you outside the circle of
shadow that hems me in.'
' I understood somethino^ of that,' she
said; ' not all, but something of it I under-
stood ; and I was sorrv ; and I am sorrv
still. Won't you come over here l3y the
windows, there is always something to be
seen in the streets below, and — I want to
say things I dare not say aloud.'
He came and stood close by the head of
the couch, gazing blindly across the wide
space of the road beneath the windows,
seeing nothing of the bustle of the street
below, conscious only of her white up-
turned face close under him.
' First of all I want to scold you,' she
went on. ' Why did you not tell me the
whole truth at first ? There must be some
way out of this terror — there must be,
there slicdl be ! We will find it together —
you and I. Two heads are better than
292 PENH ALA.
one. If you had only told me this when
you told me the rest, you might have been
a free man now, able to throw off the
burden you have carried so long.'
Her beautiful trust in him touched him
to the core of his being, but at her reason-
ing he only shook his head, and drew in a
long, tremulous breath.
' You don't know,' he said, quietly,
' and I can't explain matters to you. If I
could, you would see how hopeless things
are for me.'
' Nothing is hopeless !' she cried. ' I
will not believe it.'
Again he shook his head slightly.
• I'm afraid my case is. There are other
influences at work — the desire for justice
is not the only motive — there is the long-
ing for revenge to be reckoned with.'
' Revenge against an innocent man ?'
' Ah, you don't understand ! Innocent
of that one crowning iniquity against
human life ? Yes. But guilty still of a
great deal that calls out for vengeance.
There is a man living whose longing to
be revenged on me is such, that he would
swear away my life without a moment's
' Swear away your life ?'
^ He would swear — he has already sworn
— that he saw me, that he himself saw me^
commit the crime I did not commit.'
' He would swear away your life with a
' To be revenged on me for those other
sins, yes. There is nothing half-hearted
about a Cornishman's revenge.'
' If I could but see him !'
' It would be no use.' He let his glance
fall for an instant to her pale face, and
pictured her vis-a-vis with. Morris Edyvean.
' To open communication with the past
would only be to put tlie noose round my
neck. There is nothing for it but to bear
the burden as best I can.'
She put her hand over her eyes, and
' It is terrible — terrible !'
' Yes ; sometimes it is very terrible. If
I were altogether innocent of \Yrong-doing
in the matter, I could bear it better. But
there is always the memory that, though
I did not in very deed take away a fellow-
creature's life, I am responsible for the
circumstances that led to her death. And
sometimes I think the stain of blood-
guiltiness is on my soul, as truly as if I
had wilfully hurried that poor child into
eternity, and that in the end I am bound
to be hanged for it. Xow and then, when
I am alone, this idea — that my end is pre-
ordained, that, do what I Avill, I shall hang
ultimately — gets such a hold on me, that
I feel madness coming on, and I rush
away, out into the streets, anywhere where
there are people, and talk to a shoe-lDlack,
or a crossing-sweeper, or anybody who will
listen to me till the mad terror passes
She still sat Avith her hand over her
eyes, and he thought she was crying. It
was the first time he had known her give
way to such a weakness. It smote him
with a new touch of sorrow to know that
the unusual tears were shed on his ac-
count. If it had but been possible for
him to gather her up in his arms and com-
fort her ! But such joy was not for him.
He stood looking down at her bent head
for a shorr space, with his eyes full of
a grievous heart-hunger, a heart-hunger
which he must endure to the end in si-
lence, l)ecause he did not dare make an
effort to satisfy it.
296 PENH ALA.
' I suppose it is part of the cloud tliat is
over me,' lie said, ' that no one can be
orood to me without suiFerins; for it. See
-what distress I have brought on you — you
to whom I owe a gratitude past the wit of
man to measure. But that at least I can
prevent in the future, and I will. God
bless you for your sweet sympathy ! It
makes me realise that I cannot be wholly
lost, when such a one as you can weep for
He stooped and kissed the back of her
hand, as it still sheltered her face from
observation, and, turning swiftly, strode
without a backward glance or a faltering
step from the room.
END OF THE FIKST VOLUME.
London : Printed by Duncan Macdonald, Blenheim Housa., W,
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-URBANA
823R541P C001 v.1
Penhala a wayside wizard